Wild world of sport

Footy fans are in for a treat with more tele­vised live games than ever, writes COLIN VICK­ERY

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS -

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.

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