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Attacking, speedy rugby on cards for NPC

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/08/2016

New Zealand's provincial rugby competition will be made faster and more attacking by World Rugby trial rule changes at the breakdown, according to coaches.

The Mitre 10 Cup is being used in 2016 as a testing ground for the breakdown rule changes, with the offside line now formed when a single attacking player arrives over the tackle.

This negates the need for a defensive player to form a ruck. Players joining the breakdown may also only do so from behind the offside line.

The competition, which starts on August 18, will also have a new points format.

Teams will earn six points for a try, while conversions, penalty goals and drop goals will earn two points each.

Canterbury and future Crusaders coach Scott Robertson says attacking sides will have more phases with the ball under the new rules.

This would make the defence's job more difficult.

"The first few weeks everyone will look at everyone else closely," Robertson said.

Taranaki boss Colin Cooper says to expect a more exciting style of rugby but warns that attacking players will need to protect the ball more closely.

Reduced injuries in the ruck would be an added benefit.

"I think it'll be clearer for the fans, clearer for the refs and more tries scored," the ex-Hurricanes coach said.

Auckland coach Nick White, whose side were runners-up to Canterbury in the 2015 competition, says his side will need to adapt quickly.

"Because there's not a lot of contesting at the breakdown, there'll be a lot of running," White said.

"At times you're going to have to do a lot of defence.

"It'll be a good game for spectators to watch."

Hawke's Bay coach Craig Philpott, whose side earned promotion to the Premiership after winning last year's Championship, agreed.

"You're certainly not going to be able to get the ball as easily as you used to, so teams are going to have to be innovative and react."

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