RUGBY LEAGUE / McCallum lays down the law

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Coaches and referees have been told that the new approach to speeding up the game at the play-the-ball is here to stay.

Greg McCallum, the referees' coaching director, contacted all clubs and officials yesterday to stress that the new interpretations of the laws, which helped to produce compelling matches at Sheffield and Leeds on the weekend, will remain in place.

"I have instructed referees at all levels of the game to enforce rigidly the rules of the game with regard to the play-the-ball," McCallum, who was Sydney's leading referee before taking up his post here in October, said. "It had become apparent that many of the rules vital to the play-the-ball operating effectively were being disregarded."

The game had suffered, he said, because of "deliberate actions by the majority of players from most clubs". Four players were sent to the sin-bin in the dazzling Leeds-Wigan match last Sunday and coaches are bracing themselves for more.

"I think it's a good thing and that it will suit us," Garry Jack, whose Salford side meet Warrington in the Regal Trophy on Saturday, said. "It's quite simple; I've told our players to tackle and roll away and I'm sure other coaches will do the same."

Wigan's directors were last night discussing Bradford Northern's bid for their Test prop, Neil Cowie. Their coach, Graeme West, has a worry over Jason Robinson for Sunday's Hull tie.