INJURED ALL Blacks and Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw is happy that referees will take no prisoners at the breakdown during Super Rugby this year.
McCaw, who is not expected to be fully recovered from a foot injury until at least April, says their approach will reward positive attacking play.
SANZAR referees boss Lyndon Bray earlier this week announced officials will keep a close eye on what goes on at the tackled-ball area.
Their main focus will be on the first or ‘assist’ tacklers not allowing ball carriers to release the ball and the illegal sealing off of the ball at the breakdown.
McCaw has welcomed that approach around ensuring the tackler releases and makes an effort to get out of the way.
“I think what they've decided is pretty good. Get the tackler out of the way. That has made a hell of a difference in the last couple of years. They are obviously going to be pretty strict on that from the start, so that is pretty critical from the start rather than try and bring it in halfway through,” he told Sportal.
He also feels it is right that they punish teams who intentionally leave their feet at the breakdown to try and seal off the ball.
“It's going to be a wee bit tricky for them in good, positive play where everyone does fall over. You have to weigh up that, but the way they have said they are going to do it, they are going to be consistent with it then at least you'll know.”
He says by being vigilant at the breakdown allows the attacking team to have confidence with the ball.
“If you do it right, and you have the support there, you'll keep the ball, whereas the year before the tackler had the ability to lie there, slow it up and allow defensive players to get on the ball and it became a real dogfight there.
"It will reward positive play, but you have got to keep it in context. That's what 2010 did, you saw more teams with the attitude of using it a bit more.”« Back to Archives
This weekend throws up another set of games which could go either way.
Which player was unlucky not to make the Wallabies’ preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions series?