We have just entered February with two weeks before the season starts. Just a very different feel of the Super Rugby landscape. As Channel Nine & Stan will replace Fox Sports as the media partner.
The best part about this new deal that every game will be on Stan. While having one match per week live on Nine. Mainly on Saturday nights plus finals. But the opening game will just be on a Friday.
When the State of Origin rivalry takes place at Suncorp Stadium. As the Queensland Reds host the NSW Waratahs in Brisbane. I am not sure if Nine will put it on the main channel. Since the Australian Open Tennis still goes on by this stage.
But I hope it will be on Nine rather than on their digital channels. Because that night of tennis does not involve either men’s or women’s single grand final. And it would be good if they can give us this code a chance. After they paid $100 million for three years in which is a lot to justify.
So far there are a few people have joined this regime. Most of them including myself are familiar from the Foxtel days. Such as big soccer fan Murray Shaw who will be the manager of this coverage. As well as secondary caller & senior producer Andrew Swain. After they both confirmed their respective moves over on Twitter.
It is not hard to know who will be the main caller. Where Nine will not go for Greg Clark and Gordon Bray. They would instead give someone a chance. And that would be Sean Maloney who was No.2 rugby caller at Fox for years. Before he was moved on after 2019. And he recently called Shute Shield last year on 7Two.
While it would be great to have James Bracey and Erin Molan in there. They chose someone who knows this game inside out. Having been the face of Fox Rugby from 2007-2019. And he will make his debut on Nine tomorrow with the ATP Cup Tennis. His name is Nick McArdle.
These are the staff who will be at most Super Rugby & Wallabies games. Even the key Shute Shield & Hospital Cup Club games. When the Wallabies are not playing. And once the Super Rugby competition is done. Now we go to the ex-players who will join McArdle & Maloney.
Before we can get too excited Nine will not take everyone from Fox. Such as Rod Kafer & Phil Kearns. Or even Network 10 including Matthew Burke. They have been the mainstays of Australian Rugby for years. But now it is the time to balance some new & experienced faces here.
I have seen an Instagram story shared by Drew Mitchell the other day. And there was two ex players had fun for a few days in the farm. This hint would help complete the new rugby team on Nine/Stan. As always Drew is in his mid 30s after he retired from rugby in 2017. Drew is always passionate about giving his perspective of the game. Having played for the Wallabies before. And worked for Fox in 2018-2019.
Even though he was made redundant at Fox. Drew actually made fun on Instagram with his own mini commentary/studio. During the opening round of the Super Rugby 1.0 season last year. Before COVID hit and Super Rugby was split into domestic comps. Drew is all-round bloke who deserves a pundit role on Nine/Stan.
Alongside Drew is no other than Tim Horan. Another ex-Wallaby who helped win the 1999 World Cup in Wales for Australia. Tim has the same passionate views as Drew. He was a pundit at Channel 7 when they had the rights until 2010. Before he was transferred for the last decade at Fox with Kearns & Clarke.
Tim is very experienced in the booth with huge analysis on the code. And how he can give advice to make the Wallabies/Super Rugby clubs better. He is someone who can get along well with new No.1 caller Sean Maloney. Having called some Super Rugby games together before.
3rd or 4th pundit would usually be looking after the sidelines. So we still do not know yet for sure. Maybe Allana Ferguson would be great since she was linked early last month. Despite having a league playing background. But she can play both roles as a panelist & sideline caller.
If not then Drew would take this role & be the new Rob Kafer. He may have called some games from the booth before. But Drew is more suited of a panellist/sideline commentator type role. And has an even better humour than his possible predecessor. It is more realistic to pair up Sean & Tim upstairs. Just like Grant Nisbett & Justin Marshall at Sky Sport NZ.
We all hope to see Sean, Nick, Drew & Tim on the air in 18 days time. For the marquee Super Rugby & Wallabies games. Before we look at the Shute Shield & Hospital Cup on-air staff by April/May.