Super Rugby Aotearoa: Coaches, players already adapting to new 'league' rules

Super Rugby Aotearoa has received a major rule overhaul just weeks out from the beginning of the season. 

Captains' challenges and rugby league-influenced goal-line dropouts will be part of this year's competition. 

So what do the teams make of the new rules

"Dropout's have been used successfully in league and we've brought it across to our game, because we think it's going to encourage more attacking rugby," says NZ Rugby head of performance Mike Anthony.

The new goal-line dropout - instead of a 22-metre dropout - when the ball is grounded in the defending team's goal could see more teams attempt chips in behind defences, just like league.

"There might be a few more kick earlier on," says Crusaders coach Scott Robertson. 

Agrees Crusaders halfback Mitch Drummond: "I think that's definitely a weapon that teams are gonna use and the reality is, if you get the kick right, you're gonna get the ball back."

The rule isn't completely new to rugby union either.

"Australia used it last year in their comp and 18 percent of the dropouts resulted in tries," says Anthony.

Meanwhile, the new captain's challenge gives sides 10 seconds after a try is scored to challenge anything since the last stoppage - not dissimilar to systems currently used in other sports. 

"Sort of like the old DRS in cricket, isn't it?" says Drummond.

"Look, the players know if there's been an incident, so we'll have ways we can get information down if we need to," says Robertson.

Some teams would undoubtedly have loved to have this ability in the past.

"If you'd had a captain’s referral at that time and a team had the ability to look back, outcomes might have been changed," agrees Anthony.

The Crusaders and Highlanders will be the first to try out the new rules in a pre-season clash on Saturday, now with a big rugby league flavour.

"We haven't quite got the ball rolling under the foot yet," insists Anthony.

Maybe not, but Super Rugby Aotearoa will have a much different look this year.