PLAY­ING THE FIELD

The Bounce is tak­ing a more fam­ily friendly ap­proach to AFL cov­er­age. Guy Davis learned more from footy leg­end Matthew Richardson.

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the fam­ily will sit down and get their footy fi x for the week, fi nd out who’s in and who’s out for the week.”

Richardson, a key for­ward for AFL team Rich­mond from 1993 un­til his re­tire­ment last year, joins an eclec­tic line-up of tal­ent on the show, in­clud­ing co­me­di­ans Peter Hel­liar ( al­ready well-known in footy cir­cles for his Be­fore the Game ap­pear­ances … and his links to leg­endary player Bryan “ Strauchanie” Strauchan), Peter Row­sthorn and Dave Law­son, AFL leg­end Leigh Matthews and sports jour­nal­ist Cather­ine El­lis.

With Hel­liar as host, it’s clear that The Bounce will be a lighter look at Aussie rules. But Richardson is quick to point out that in-depth com­men­tary is also part of the show’s plan.

“ Hav­ing guys like Pete, Peter and Dave on board, the show is go­ing to be a bit of fun,” he said.

“ But there’ll also be some se­ri­ous footy talk, which is where Leigh and Cather­ine and I will come in. Cather­ine’s go­ing to be re­port­ing sto­ries, and Leigh and I will be dis­cussing the round’s teams and the events of the week with Pete.

“ So I think we’ll leave the com­edy to the co­me­di­ans – Leigh and I will be the straight men, al­though we’ll prob­a­bly try to crack a few gags here and there. The ma­jor­ity of the time, though, we’ll be talk­ing about footy.”

Richardson has had plenty of prac­tice, even though he was play­ing full-time up un­til last year. He was a reg­u­lar fi xture on The Footy Show panel for years, as well as a fre­quent guest con­trib­u­tor to Ten’s AFL cov­er­age.

But fol­low­ing a 2009 in­jury, he started to con­sider a ca­reer in the me­dia full-time. And once he hung up the boots for good, he re­ceived a fair few off ers.

“ I prob­a­bly knew that I was com­ing to the end of my play­ing ca­reer so it felt like time to chuck my hat into the ring and se­ri­ously see if I’d be any good in the me­dia,” he said. “ Luck­ily enough, a num­ber of off ers came in when I re­tired and I was more than happy to give it a go.”

It’s a task he plans to ap­proach with the same ded­i­ca­tion that char­ac­terised his bril­liant ca­reer in the AFL, one that saw him se­lected for the All-Aus­tralian team three times.

“ Well, it’s got to pay my bills now,” he said with a laugh. “ Be­fore, me­dia ap­pear­ances were just an oc­ca­sional thing. But it’s my num­ber one job now, so I’ll treat it the same way I treated my footy ca­reer.”

With that in mind, he con­sid­ers him­self for­tu­nate to have a team­mate like Matthews, a man he clearly re­spects.

“ Leigh’s one of the big­gest names in foot­ball,” said Richardson. “ He’s one of the great­est play­ers of all time, as well as a coach with four pre­mier­ships to his name. So it was pretty in­tim­i­dat­ing at fi rst sit­ting there next to him. But he’s very down to earth and I’m looking for­ward to work­ing with him over the com­ing weeks, learn­ing more and more from him.”

He’s also pleased that El­lis, an ac­com­plished print jour­nal­ist and self­con­fessed footy fan, will be adding a woman’s touch to what has tra­di­tion­ally been a blokey do­main.

“ Cather­ine’s go­ing to be a big part of the show,” he said. “ Women are a huge part of the footy au­di­ence, some say more than half, so I think that it’s great hav­ing Cather­ine on board to bring that per­spec­tive to our cov­er­age of the game. The more view­points we have, the bet­ter it’s go­ing to be.”

In the game: pre­sen­ters, from left, Cather­ine El­lis, Matthew Richardson, Peter Hel­liar, Leigh Matthews, Peter

Row­sthorn and Dave Law­son.

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