Matt To'omua: Players can 'increase ability' under new Super Rugby AU laws

Wallabies veteran Matt To'omua says Australia has the chance to "increase the ability" of its players in the upcoming Super Rugby AU competition through the use of trial laws that were at last confirmed on Friday.

Rugby Australia signed off on seven trial laws on Friday morning, having confirmed the draw 24 hours earlier, which will aim to improve the amount of time the ball is in play and in turn the spectacle itself.

They include "Super Time" extra time; 50/22 and 22/50 kicks/lineout throws; red-card replacements after 20 minutes; changes to kicks that originate from inside the attacking 22 and how they are defended by the attacking team; and goal-line dropouts instead of five-metre scrums when a player is held up over the goal-line

There will also be a greater focus on the speed at which scrums are set, while existing breakdown laws will also be policed with renewed vigour.

But it is changing the way the game is played at the try-line that most excites To'omua, the Melbourne Rebels playmaker pointing to the drama rugby league typically creates within the last 10 metres of the paddock as a guide for rugby's potential gain.

"One of my big suggestions with rugby, and one of the things I love about rugby is that we have so much contested possession; you don't get anything for free," To'omua said as part of The Australian's Rugby Rescue panel this week. "You get a breakdown you've got to contest possession; the ball goes out you've got to compete at the lineout. There's the scrum [contest].

"I think at the try-line, that goes away. Once the ball is in the in-goal, you just put it down and you get 22 metres free. You can catch a mark [inside the 22] and you get time and space. I think for me I'd like to create some more drama around that; contest the possession around that; keep the ball in play longer.

"And personally I think that's something that rugby league does really well; you see all the highlights in rugby league, it's around the tryline, it's around the goaline. So I think that fits the DNA of rugby; we will have to increase our ability to evade in tough situations and exit our half better."

To'omua had been part of the committee that debated potential law changes for Super Rugby AU.

And there are few better people in Australian rugby to do so, given he has played professionally both at home and abroad and has 52 Test caps worth of international experience.

To'omua understands the balance that is needed between making Super Rugby AU as an attractive and entertaining product as possible, but not going so far as that it could impact players' readiness for a potential four-game Test series against the All Blacks, played under rugby World Rugby laws, later this year.

And he's confident that law trials that create more of a contest inside the 22 and behind the goal-line would not actually hinder any Test preparations down the road.

"It could be a different rule to a Test match but I think we will actually increase players' ability in certain areas, rather than hinder it," he said.

"A part of the committee that we were in charge of coming up with a few proposals is that it doesn't hamper our Wallabies, so it doesn't hinder our Wallabies in Test matches...you don't want to be playing chess in one game and checkers in the other. We need to still produce good Test players to win Test matches because ultimately that is one of the main things that Super Rugby does provide.

"But in saying that it doesn't mean we can't work around it; I actually think we can enhance [our play], I'll be honest."

To'omua's Rebels coach, Dave Wessels, was also a part of The Australian panel. Wessels spoke of the discussions that had taken place around saving time at the scrum and avoiding multiple resets.

While RA opted against adopting World Rugby's optional law trial that would have meant fewer scrum resets, Rugby Australia Director of Rugby Scott Johnson says referees will be "zeroing in" on time wasting at the scrum during Super Rugby AU.

That will be music to the ears of Australian rugby fans.