A five-point try and 'golden try' in extra time are two of the standout rules revealed for the NRL Nines tournament to take place at Eden Park next February.
The inaugural event, which takes place on February 15-16, will feature a 'bonus zone', as reported by the Herald on Sunday, located in the in-goal area between the goal posts at each end where tries will be worth five points. All other tries scored outside the 'bonus zone' will remain as four pointers.
The other major change is only a try will end a game in extra-time - taking drop goal attempts out of the game during sudden death.
"I love the changes," said former Warriors great Steve Price.
"They are a recipe for nine minutes of flat-out footy. There will be blokes screaming for air. It's going to be fast.
Traditionalists will be pleased that the tournament will be conducted in accordance with 'Rugby League Laws of the Game International Level with Notes on the Laws' approved by the Australian Rugby League Commission in February.
But the Auckland event has a number of specific and exciting modifications.
Arguably the most exciting is the introduction of a five point try - a change which is designed to reward teams for attacking play.
"The idea of the five point try is an exciting new concept," said Nathan McGuirk, the NRL General Manager, Football Operations. "It will reward the attacking team who will be looking to pick up the extra point by scoring in the 'Bonus Zone' area.
"At the same time, it also offers a good incentive for the defending team to keep chasing the player with the ball and try to prevent him from scoring in the 'Bonus Zone'."
In the event of a match ending in a draw after regular time - games will be played over two nine minutes halves - the winner will be the team who scores a 'golden try' in extra time.
"The concept of the extra time 'golden try' should also prove exciting for players and fans alike," said McGuirk. "I am sure everyone will welcome these new exciting rules for the NRL Nines tournament."
All 16 NRL teams will compete in the two-day competition, with many top NRL players on view - as opposed to many rugby sevens tournaments where players are lesser known.
Tournament rules stipulate at least 12 of each club's top 25 salary-capped players as well as one top-five player must take part.
The teams have been split into four equal groups where they will each play one another in the group stage. The top two teams from each group will move on to the quarter-finals, where the winners from those eight games will play in a knockout format through to the grand final.
Other rule changes for the NRL Auckland Nines include:
- Goal-kicks will not feature in the tournament with dropkicks taken in line from where the try was scored worth two points. Penalty dropkicks will be worth two points with a field goal in general play remaining at one point.
- Scrums will consist of five players from each team and will only be used in the event of a double knock-on or a mutual infringement.
- In the event of a successful 40/20 kick, play will recommence with a tap re-start to the kicking team 20 metres in from where the ball crossed the touch line.
- Matches will be re-started by the scoring team through a drop kick off.
- Referees will have the power to send players to the sin-bin for five minutes for foul play.
NRL Nines groups
Group A: Warriors, Raiders, Sea Eagles, Cowboys
Group B: Roosters, Eels, Broncos, Bulldogs
Group C: Sharks, Knights, Tigers, Titans
Group D: Storm, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Dragons