RL legends Hanley and Sculthorpe back interchange reduction

Ellery Hanley at the Betfred Super League launch earlier this year
Ellery Hanley at the Betfred Super League launch earlier this year

Rugby League legends Ellery Hanley and Paul Sculthorpe have backed the reduction in interchanges introduced in the domestic game this season and called for further cuts in the future.

As part of a number of new rules changes introduced for 2019, Super League has lowered the interchanges allowed in a game from 10 to eight – a move also implemented in the lower-leagues.

Sculthorpe and Hanley are both involved in the new-look Man of Steel process and having won the coveted awarded five times between them know what it takes to lift the biggest individual accolade in the sport.

The former Wigan idol told TotalRL.com: “What chief executive Robert Elstone has done by changing the game in terms of speeding it up, is brilliant.

''We are talking about very strong, athletic guys, most of whom have the ability to play for 80 minutes, so it’s fantastic to see them being put at the centre of it all again.

“To reduce the substitutes is a fantastic idea and I’d like to see it reduced even further. Potentially I think you could go down to six subs. I’d like to see that. I like to see warriors on the field,

staying on there for long periods of time and being tested –aerobically and anaerobically. That’s the test of a real player for me.”

His sentiments were echoed by Sculthorpe, a winner of the award in 2001 and 2002 and only beaten by Hanley’s three victories in 1985,1987 and 1989.

The former Saints skipper also suggested that lowering the interchanges further could be a shrewd move for the sport moving forward.

“I’m a big fan of the interchanges going down; I think that was needed, and as far as I’m concerned let’s keep it going down,” he said.

When asked if he agreed with Hanley’s suggestion of six subs, Sculthorpe said: “Yeah, I think that’s right. It gets away from players coming on and playing seven minutes at a time, and that static one-up, one-out rugby.

“You see a bit more flair, a bit more athleticism and it’s all a bit quicker. The action is non-stop.”