The interchange reduction could have its first casualty with Cronulla supersub Ben Barba in danger of losing his spot on the bench.
Impressive trial form at fullback from rising star Jack Bird meant Barba, the 2012 Dally M medallist, was certain to resume his role as impact player for the Sharks in the new season.
However Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen threw a spanner in the works by stating his preference would be for the side to be without a utility on the bench in the eight-interchange era.
“Four forwards on the bench is the way to go if you’ve got a hooker that could play 80 minutes and we certainly do,” he said.
“One of the bench spots, with only eight interchanges, is going to get limited time because you’re going to have your two front-rowers go on and off, one back-rower or a tight player, and then only one of them blokes (left) is going to get really limited time.
“I don’t see (the coaching staff) having a Ben Barba or a Jack Bird on the bench.”
Gallen was quick to point out that his thoughts may differ to that of coach Shane Flanagan.
“They could be, we’ll know next week. Honestly I don’t know,” he said.
“I’d probably tell you if I did, that’s why Flanno’s not telling me. Flanno will base his decision on the trial form, which was really good from both of them.”
Barba, now in his second season for the Sharks, failed to cement a spot in Flanagan’s top 17 and at one stage, was even rotated in the No.1 jumper with then-fullback Michael Gordon mid-game.
It was an experiment that didn’t quite sit well with the former Canterbury star.
Asked whether it was a success, Barba said: “It’s hard to say because when you’re picked in the starting side, especially in the backs, you don’t like to get interchanged.
“All I can do now is do whatever role is given to me and just focus on that and not worry about where I’m playing or what I’m doing.”
Flanagan names his first team of the season on Tuesday, ahead of their round one clash against defending premiers North Queensland.