Wild world of sport
Footy fans are in for a treat with more televised live games than ever, writes COLIN VICKERY
GAME on! Matty Johns and Jonathan Brown are set to spearhead a massive new era of NRL and AFL telecasts after Fox Sports’ historic broadcast deal in November.
Fox Sports is preparing to televise every NRL and AFL game this season before the Grand Finals live and in high definition.
Last year’s NRL Grand Final was a classic, with just one point separating victors North Queensland Cowboys (17) from the Brisbane Broncos (16) – and that was determined in extra time.
Johns expects another nailbiter this season.
“At the start of each season, the first thing I do is say, ‘OK, who do I think won’t make the finals?’,” Johns says. “Last year I had six teams, but this year I have three. So I’ve got 13 [teams to fit] into eight [finals spots].
“My tip to win is the Broncos. [After coming second last season] I can just see them ready to win this.
“The only reason I haven’t gone for the Cowboys winning again is no side since the Broncos in 1997-98 has won it back-to-back.”
The Manly Sea Eagles are coming off a horror year.
Coach and club legend Geoff Toovey was sacked. In the first 10 weeks, the team only had two wins and were cruelled by injury.
Daly Cherry-Evans recently signed a reported $10 million deal to stay with Manly after being wooed by the Gold Coast Titans. The star halfback hopes 2016 will see a change in his team’s fortunes as well.
“There’s a lot of optimism and a lot of eagerness at this time of the year,” he says.
“We fell short last year so I’m itching to get out there.
“We’re very positive in our approach. We’ve set the bar high.”
Aaron Woods is one of the NRL’s rising stars, but he knows his team, the Wests Tigers, have a lot of work to do after finishing 15th last season. A rift between coach Jason Taylor and hooker Robbie Farah was big news.
“We had a few dramas … but that has all settled down now,” Woods says.
“This is the tightest group I’ve ever been a part of.”
When Cherry-Evans and Woods aren’t posing for the camera with Johns, they’re busy chatting, looking more like friends than foes. So is there any sense of rivalry when they see each other?
“To be honest, not as much as people would expect,” Cherry-Evans says. “Me and Woodsy have toured together with the Aussie side, so we get along really well. But I know when we cross the white line [on the field] it’s definitely a different story.”
Johns will continue hosting NRL review program Monday Night with Matty Johns, with the new Fox Sports deal seeing him front Friday Night Footy as well.
“Now I’m competing against my brother Andrew on Nine,” he laughs. “What I’m thinking about doing is getting Mum and Dad involved in my show. Andrew was always their favourite. Andrew was better than me as a footballer too, so I’m trying to beat him as a broadcaster. I’m trying to get into Mum and Dad’s favour.”
NRL COVERAGE BEGINS
FOX SPORTS, MONDAY, 5.30PM
Leading the way: Fox Sports NRL host Matty Johns is pursued by Wests Tigers’ Aaron Woods and
Manly star Daly Cherry-Evans.