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Jimmy Gopperth and George Kruis assess what the law changes will mean

By Paul Smith
Jimmy Gopperth scores at Worcester (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

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The impact of the goal-line drop-out and 50:22 on the Gallagher Premiership are yet to be seen – but two of the competition’s most experienced names believe both law changes will have an impact.

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England’s British & Irish Lions lock George Kruis played nearly 200 games for Saracens before departing for Japanese champions Wild Knights.

During this time he developed a reputation as one of the sport’s top lineout operators, and he believes both attacking and defensive options will change as a result of World Rugby’s recent law amendment.

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“The goal-line drop out is an interesting one as I’m sure it will have an effect on how teams look to approach lineout attack,” he said.

“The law change should open the game up a little and I’m fairly sure it will get quicker and less predictable as a result.

“Those teams who are very good at the lineout drive will probably stick with it, but if you’re less strong you may look at other options instead.

“The lineout drive isn’t as big a thing in Japan as in the UK where it has won games for sides for a number of years.

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“As ever, the teams that adapt quickest and are best coached will end up doing well.

“In time I’m sure coaches will develop something else to replace it and in turn that will then be looked at further down the line for more law changes.”

Wasps’ veteran fly half Jimmy Gopperth has already seen his team concede a try direct from a defensive goal-line drop out in their pre-season derby game against Championship outfit Coventry.

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And the 38-year-old admits it has provided plenty of training ground food for thought ahead of the new Premiership season.

“The goal-line drop out gives plenty of options around looking to win the ball back or perhaps taking a quick one or looking for territory,” he said.

“We’re currently looking at options both when we have possession and how best to defend against it and what to do when the ball is kicked to us.”

Gopperth believes the 50:22 will have less impact, but warns against viewing last summer’s Super Rugby as a representative trial for rugby played in the Northern Hemisphere winter.

“In Super Rugby there has only been three 50:22’s in the whole competition but I expect there will be more in the Premiership where we tend to have more kicking,” he said.

“We’ve talked about how to defend it and it’s important to remember it only applies when teams are in their own half so once they’re over that line you can go back to normal defence.

“The hardest place to defend it is from a turnover when one team thinks they’re on the attack and have left their backfield empty, so we may see opportunities in that situation.”

Law makers aim to create more attacking space with the 50:22 since they believe wingers will need to sit deeper to protect the touchlines.

Gopperth agrees with this line of thinking and says traditionally attack-minded Wasps will seek to exploit this whenever possible.

“When we’re doing our kicking practice we always look at angles and finding corners so we’re continuing with that,” he said.

“To be honest our first thought is to look at running into any spaces created by defenders dropping back rather than kicking.”

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Jimmy Gopperth and George Kruis assess what the law changes will mean

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