Forgotten rule can be killer blow

Forgotten rule can be killer blow


IT WAS the highly publicised new rule that rugby league has forgotten.

But the six remaining NRL coaches are being reminded a 20/40 kick could be a “momentum-swinger” in the remaining three weeks of this year’s finals.

Not a single player has successfully executed a 20/40 kick over 164 games this season.

In fact, only Brisbane’s Anthony Milford has attempted a 20/40, unsuccessfully, back in Round 5 against Manly when 10m from his own goal line. The kick narrowly missed finding touch.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley said the 20/40 kick option was still tucked away in the “back pockets” of clubs if they were “bold” enough. With the remaining five games expected to be tight and physical, coaches and officials are thinking a 20/40 kick could be the shock tactic to change a game.

Teams battling to bring the ball out from within their own 20m zone have been encouraged to take the gamble.

Asked could it be surprise strategy in the finals, Wests Tigers and former Souths premiership-winning coach Michael Maguire said: “Definitely. If you can pull it off, it’s a massive play. It would be a momentum-swinger.”

The new rule was introduced last December where a team in possession can earn a tap restart from kicking inside their own 20m zone and finding touch within the opposition’s 40m line. It is, essentially, the reverse of a 40/20.

“The fact that it hasn’t been widely used doesn’t mean that opportunity doesn’t still exist. It’s still in the back pocket of teams to use if they’re bold enough and if they think that the reward justifies the risk,” Annesley said.

“When we introduced the rule we were aware it wouldn’t be widely used but it was intended to provide an opportunity for teams, particularly when they’re trying to work their way back into a game.”

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I guess the thing about a 20/40 is that it is in nearly all circumstances a low percentage play. Most times when a team starts a set inside their own 20, they will have worked their way to the half way line by the last tackle. Even on those rare occasions when a team is pinned down inside their own 20 for most of the set, to send a kick aiming for the opposition 40 carries too much risk that it won’t go out and giving the other team pretty juicy field position. It’s probably a safer bet to boot the ball well down field toward the other 20m line and line up defensively from there.

A 40/20, by contrast, is much more feasible, as even if it doesn’t come off, you’ve still got the other tram starting their set near their own goal line.

I don’t think it’s forgotten at all. It’s a massive risk that if the kicker gets it wrong and it goes out on the full, the opposition have a full set on the opposing 20m line. If the ball stays in play the players then need to travel further to tackle the fullback or winger. Fatigue is what allows teams to break their opposition down and this adds to it

Normally, if you are looking at doing a 20/40, you don’t have that much room behind you to position yourself for a kick. So with the limited space, if you were in the right corner of the field, you would be aiming to the left side of the field, and as there is no need for the defending winger to be up close in the line, then he can sit back and defend against such a kick attempt. It will be hard to kick done the right side of the field and you will be needing luck of the bounce, and also the fullback not being there either. The same goes with reverse side.

If you were in the center of the field, you have the options of both sides, but the defense will generally knows who would be kicking that ball, and 95% of the time it will be a right footer, which generally will be kicking to the left side of the field, thus generally, the opposition winger will be covering his side , and the full back will be covering the opposite side, thus negating that option.

Some of the ways you can gain the upper hand with the 20/40 is by having a unknown kicker in your team that catches the opposition off guard with their kicking ability, or you have a kicker that is proficient in kicking with both left or right feet, or a kicker who can kick the ball very far, but perhaps not that accurate and hope for the best.

The best viable option for a 20/40 if you get the opportunity is by the following scenario plays out. If the attacking team is very close to your line, and the ball goes dead say on your left side where the wingers were contending for the ball, you go for 20m quick restart where the now defending team in not back at their line, and the wingers are completely off side and have the player who is restarting the game pass it directly back to the kicker and kick to the left side where the wingers are not present, as you will be in the middle of the field, the defending team is getting back to the line. This is about the best time where you have the attacking ability with the defending team at its most vulnerable.

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Another opportunity is when a team is chasing in the closing minutes of a game. From the kickoff if they were they to try it as all the opposition will be running towards them. If you have a speedy winger on the side your kicking for then he may even get there first also.

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No more risky than a short goal line dropout, which Reyno has tried twice lately, for a 50% success rate. The 20/40 will be in the back of his mind, don’t you worry about that.

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