Two-point field goal for 2021 NRL season

Nathan Cleary of the Panthers kicks Jason McCawley/Getty Images

The NRL's new two-point field goal would have applied to just one successful kick in 2020 - and it didn't even decide a game.

On Friday the NRL announced field goals beyond 40 metres would be worth two points from next season as one of multiple rule changes endorsed by the Australian Rugby League Commission.

The radical rule will be introduced in an effort to increase the chance of a result changing in the final stages of a game.

However, from 19 successful field goals in 2020, only one would have been worth two points.

Michael Morgan's 42m field goal in the 39th minute of North Queensland's round one loss to Brisbane was the only successful kick of the season from outside 40 metres.

The Cowboys half caught the ball from a drop out right on halftime and took the long-range shot after the siren sounded, when there was no risk of giving away a seven-tackle set.

The Cowboys trailed 12-9 at the break and lost 28-21, but it's the type of kick there could be more of in 2021 under the new rules.

"I don't think we're going to see a flurry of field goals here," said NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo.

"What we're going to see is in the rare circumstance where a team is down by two points that they have a chance to tie up the game or perhaps win the game if they're down by one.

"It'll be rare, but it'll be a great opportunity for the forwards to set up the platform for a sharp shooter to potentially win a game right at the death."

Of the 18 other field goals in 2020, only five were from 30 metres or more out.

Abdo said the rule was discussed with the NRL's innovations committee which includes coaches Ricky Stuart and Craig Bellamy, players Luke Keary and Damien Cook and referee Matt Cecchin.

The left-of-field idea arose from a fans poll at the end of the season and was a suggestion for an inclusion to add excitement to the game.

The change comes alongside the retention of the controversial six-again rule for 10m and ruck infringements, tweaks to the scrum, captain's challenge, play-the-ball and trainer protocols designed to further speed up the game.

The NRL also announced the continuation of one on-field referee instead of two, which was discussed in consultation with the officials.

The reduction of referees was part of mass changes for the game in 2020 that were widely celebrated.

But rather than rest on a successful season, Abdo said it was essential to keep progressing the game forward and make changes where needed.

"The game was terrific this year, but that doesn't mean we need to stay still," he said.

"We need to always invest in the game of rugby league.

"We always need to think about ways to make it better."

RULE CHANGES FOR 2021 SEASON

* Two points for field goals outside the 40m line

* Six again for 10 metre infringements and professional fouls in ruck

* Penalty if players break from scrum before referee calls 'break' when satisfied the ball is out of the scrum

* Play the ball restart when the ball is kicked or carried into touch

* Handover for incorrect play the ball

* Review retained, but on-field decision stands, where a captain's challenge is inconclusive

* Bunker reviews done in background after on-field try is awarded, with conversion attempt not permitted until bunker is satisfied a try has been scored

* Injured players must be interchanged or taken off for two minutes before they can return if trainer asks a match official to stop a game for injury