NRL change game with rule experiments

The NRL will limit the use of scrums and minimise stoppages for bunker referrals and penalties under a set of rules to be trialled in this weekend's dead rubbers.

In some of the most drastic rule changes experimented with at NRL level, offside penalties will result in set restarts while scrums won't be packed when the ball is kicked into touch.

The rules will be tried in Brisbane's clash with North Queensland as well as Manly's date with the Warriors on Sunday.

While the Manly-Warriors match has next to no implications on the ladder, Brisbane are desperately trying to avoid their first wooden spoon with a win.

Under the rules, balls kicked into touch will simply be treated as a handover with a play-the-ball in a bid to have more play time.

When scrums are packed for errors, only players designated as forwards pre-match will be able to pack in them, as well as those who replace them on the interchange.

In the event of an offside, the referee will signal six again with a penalty to be awarded in the case of repeated infringements, professional fouls or when the ball has been lost.

But if the attacking team is ruled to have lost the ball deliberately to try and gain the advantage of a full penalty, the defensive side will be awarded a scrum win.

Meanwhile the bunker referral process will also change in the dead rubbers.

If a referee believes a try has been scored, the bunker will review the play while the goal kick is being set up.

They can then come over the top of the on-field call and tell the referee to pause the kick at goal if they believe they may need to reverse the try.

If that rule had been in place last week, the bunker could have reversed Jaxson Paulo's try for South Sydney after replays clearly showed his leg going into touch.

If a referee wishes to refer a decision but he does not believe a try has been scored, that can still be sent straight to the bunker.

"The Commission's focus is to ensure our games are as entertaining and free flowing as possible for our fans," NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.

"We are a sports entertainment business. It is important to continuously test innovative ideas, aimed at a better fan experience.

"Like we have in previous seasons, we will use games which will have no impact on the top eight to test the potential rule changes.

"We will obviously also take on board feedback from the players and clubs involved and report back to the commission during the off-season."