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I T HAS been an­other hec­tic off-sea­son in the AFL with a new team swoop­ing on the big names and bold prom­ises be­ing made . . . and that’s just on the telly.

Two weeks af­ter reign­ing champ, Chan­nel 9’s The

Footy Show, hit the ground run­ning comes the re­turn of Ten’s al­ways com­pet­i­tive Be

fore the Game and the rook­ies at Seven’s The Bounce.

And though none of the shows con­sid­ers it is com­pet­ing, al­ready there are signs of an un­seemly tug-of-war on Ten’s web­site, where BTG talks up the 2010 sea­son along­side a team photo of Mick Mol­loy, An­thony ‘‘ Lehmo’’ Lehmann, Dave Hughes, Sa­man­tha Lane and . . . Strauchanie? That’s right. Strauchanie, the al­terego of Peter Hel­liar, new host of The Bounce.

Lehmo wasn’t sure how that hap­pened but is fairly sure Strauchanie won’t be mak­ing a come­back to Ten.

‘‘ We’ve got a new Carl­ton re­cruit by the name of Brawnie who looks a lot like Dave Hughes,’’ he jokes ... yes, it’s just a joke.

Mind you, a few new ideas for the show were tossed around in pre-plan­ning be­fore it was de­cided that the triedand-true seg­ments on BTG would re­main.

‘‘ Why fix some­thing that ain’t broke . . . why would you want to get rid of Tool of the Week?’’ Lehmo says.

As for Strauchanie, the spiky-haired Mag­pie mis­fit — de­spite ru­mours he has played his last game — has been tossed a life­line by his cre­ator.

‘‘ Strauchanie went to Ari­zona with Colling­wood (for the pre-sea­son work-out) and dis­ap­peared — I sus­pect he might have got lost in Las Ve­gas — but you never know, he might make a come­back later in the year,’’ Hel­liar says.

But then again, a lot can hap­pen in a footy sea­son.

Strauchanie’s come­back might de­pend on how other mem­bers of the new team go, es­pe­cially Colin Banks, the very se­ri­ous of­fice footy tip­ster.

‘‘ I cre­ated him for the very

first Rove show in 1999 and I al­ways thought we could do more with him,’’ Hel­liar says.

Seven’s track record of prime-time footy shows is hardly in­spir­ing. Nine struck gold with The Footy Show, but Seven re­cruited duds Live and

Kick­ing, The Game and Four Quar­ters.

‘‘ They (the other shows) were all a long time ago and I had noth­ing to do with them,’’ Hel­liar says, ex­hibit­ing a side­step of which Gary Ablett would be proud.

A pas­sion­ate footy fan, the 34-year-old co­me­dian came up with the idea of Be­fore the

Game for Ten and left that show only be­cause he wanted to spend the week­ends with his grow­ing fam­ily (he now has three chil­dren).

As the driv­ing force (writer and host) be­hind a team des­per­ate for suc­cess, he should be feel­ing the pres­sure, but ap­par­ently not.

‘‘ We’ve had a few prac­tice hit-outs and now we’re looking for­ward to get­ting into it. I think we’re go­ing to hit the ground run­ning,’’ he says, though ad­mit­ting he hadn’t fac­tored in his Com­edy Fes­ti­val show, the Dream­boat Tour, which runs un­til the mid­dle of next month.

‘‘ I have just re­alised that,’’ he says.

But he in­sists the early signs are all good for The

Bounce, which will be a mix of live ban­ter with two leg­ends of the game, Leigh Matthews and Matthew Richardson, along with some skits and taped seg­ments. The Bounce, Chan­nel 7 Wed­nes­day, 7.30pm

Bring it on: the

Be­fore the Game

crew is ready for foot­ball’s main game.

Boots ’n’ all:

The Bounce’s

Peter Hel­liar is con­fi­dent of suc­cess.

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