• There is a new rule that could very well affect tactics in the upcoming fixtures of the Telstra 2020 NRL season.

    The league have introduced a captain’s challenge whereby on-field captains can challenge a referee decision.

    Any challenges issued by captains would use the existing video system, but the captain’s challenge is limited to one per game and will only apply to structured restarts of the game.

    Each team will be allowed one unsuccessful challenge. A successful challenge would allow for further challenges.

    We, and everyone else, have seen enough video replays to know that there will be times where video evidence is not sufficient to overturn a referee decision. That is simply the nature and the speed of the game.

    Newcastle Knight’s captain Mitchell Pearce is anticipating using the new rule to his club’s advantage and if he does it just right, he might challenge Newcastle into finals, as they were close last year, finishing just three points out.

    As a 14-year veteran of 277 games, 239 of those with Sydney Roosters, Mitchell has the personal challenge of playing all rounds of the 2020 NRL season to achieve the 300-game distinction.

    “I’m really excited about it (the challenge system),” Pearce said. “I’ve been putting a little bit of thought into it.You know, if you’re four-nil down with 10 minutes to go and you get a penalty, you can argue the point, win some momentum and get the golden egg, that will be the positive out of it.”

    Pearce was even armed with an example of how the new rule might have reversed the outcome of last year’s NRL Grand Final had the Raiders been able to overturn a controversial call that came late in the game.

    Newcastle have not won a Grand Final since 2001, so while their drought is the longest, the typical NRL fixture has been tight in recent seasons and a captain’s challenge, successful and at the right moment, could well swing some NRL games this season.