Jon Wells: Super League's restart could see rugby league's biggest changes since video referee
Watch the return of Super League live on Sky Sports, with 21 matches in 29 days throughout August.
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 16/07/20 2:03pm
Jon Wells believes rugby league could be witnessing a glimpse of the future of the sport when Super League resumes on Sunday, August 2.
The competition will restart after being suspended for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic with a triple-header at Headingley live on Sky Sports, albeit with the 'six-again' rule from the NRL being implemented, and scrums suspended for the rest of the season.
Former Super League player and Sky Sports rugby league expert Wells is particularly excited by the latter change to the rules, seeing scrums as largely redundant in the modern game, and senses both changes could become permanent if they prove to be a success.
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"I have a feeling if this goes well, you could see the biggest change in Super League since the advent of the video referee and that's what I love about rugby league in this country," Wells told Sky Sports News. "We're proactive, we're nimble and we can think on our feet to make sure the sport succeeds and thrives.
"What it will do, along with the 'six-again rule, is change the size and shape of a squad and the size and shape of players is likely to become more uniform.
"You're going to have players who are going to be required to do big minutes, who are fit and strong and that's going to be the long-term knock-on effect.
"I personally won't be sad to see the back of scrums, this is an ever-evolving sport and I think this is going to be an interest guinea pig period, and we'll see how that plays out for the rest of the season into 2021."
I have a feeling if this goes well, you could see the biggest change in Super League since the advent of the video referee and that's what I love about rugby league in this country.
As with all other sports which have restarted recently, Super League matches will be played behind closed doors until it is deemed safe to allow spectators to start returning to stadiums.
Wells hopes it will not be long to wait before teams are allowed to open the gates for fans, but knows compromises have to be made to allow the season to resume.
"It's no secret every single Super League club is heavily reliant on gate receipts," Wells said. "First and foremost, from a financial point of view and a sustainability point of view crowds are massively important.
"Secondly, most importantly for the viewing public, us as pundits and players is atmosphere. The fans are the lifeblood and providing that partisan support, and really lifting the atmosphere in a stadium is huge.
"We've seen what life looks like with no crowds and I don't think it's something any sport wants to stay with for long.
"Certainly, for the first period of August and the first few weeks of September we'll be doing it without crowds, but if that's the compromise we have to make to get the show back on the road then the players will be more than happy to do that, I'm sure."
The first round of matches sees Hull KR against Toronto Wolfpack, Catalans Dragons playing Salford Red Devils and Leeds Rhinos taking on Huddersfield Giants in three re-arranged matches.
That is followed by a full round of six fixtures, again at Headingley, on August 8 and 9 with the regular season running until the middle of November.
"It's going to be 20 weeks to the day since there was last Super League action on Sky Sports and this fixture list has been the result of a lot of hard work and a fair bit of compromise all round, with no little handwringing," Wells said.
"I think massive credit needs to go to the RFL, Super League and the clubs for the compromises they've had to make to get this back underway.
"There needed to be a credible season and we've been able to achieve that so far, so I'm massively looking to getting this season back underway."