Sport

Pssst: Who will take Dennis Cometti's seat at Seven?

News that this will be Dennis Cometti's last season behind the microphone was not exactly news ... he said as much two years ago. What will be interesting, though, is any manoeuvring behind the scenes from those wanting to join Bruce McAvaney as Seven's frontline caller from next year. Hamish McLachlan is considered one of the favourites, but there are those who feel he is more presenter, than pure play-by-play caller - as Cometti had largely been. The colourful Brian Taylor has made Saturday night his own. Would he be a good fit alongside Bruce? Or how about Luke Darcy? Perhaps Seven will pursue a prominent Fox Footy voice, such as Anthony Hudson, with the lure of also being involved in Olympic and Commonwealth Games coverage. Seven will fine-tune its preparations for the coming season in a two-day team debrief this week. Indeed, it could be considered an unsettling year for many broadcasters, with their contracts linked to the expiring AFL broadcast rights contract. As one prominent voice noted: "It's a good year to put any squabbles aside and just get on with the job."

On the move

Top of his game: Dennis Cometti.
Top of his game: Dennis Cometti. Photo: Supplied

Speaking of Seven, we noted with interest Tim Watson's strong declaration during the news bulletin through the week for an AFL twilight grand final to be introduced. Apart from discussing the Essendon scandal, it was rare for Seven to have its sports host give such a passionate spiel. Seven's chiefs had stated last year their interest in pushing for the grand final to be a 3.30pm start - there appears little doubt now this will happen in the next round of broadcast rights. And there is growing speculation Seven will be the new broadcaster of the EJ Whitten Legends game, replacing Nine. 

Losing control

Ross Lyon's revelation in an interview with Jake Niall in The Age last week sparked former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas into action on social media. Lyon, of course, replaced "Thommo" as coach of the Saints in 2007, and the pair have not always been on the best of terms. Those days, though, are long gone, with Lyon entrenched as a Docker, and detailing that he had recently learnt to go from being what he called a "command and control" coach to one who was prepared to delegate more. Thomas, on Twitter, questioned why it had taken Lyon so long to realise this was the best method. "It's odd such an "experienced" highly credentialed (sic) coach can be so inexperienced & late to learn fundamental engagement/management principles. I have high respect for Ross as a coach however it reinforces what ice been saying for a decade (sic). The industry is unsophisticated & immature. I can only ponder what success may have been achieved if Ross was a tad better @ listening & taking advice (sic). He'd be an all time great & hero. To take 10 years for these ideas of "management revelations" to drop is extraordinary. "Command & control". Staggering it's been allowed."

Blaine game

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While there has been much said about the potential of Carlton's most recent batch of youngsters, led by No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering, vice-captain Kade Simpson believes another high draft pick is set for a strong season. The Blues raised eyebrows when they took the mature-age Blaine Boekhorst with their first selection (19th overall) of the 2014 draft, but his form at the back end of last season showed promise."I think he surprised a few - not us - but he was a surprise selection from the outside, a mature-aged recruit. But I think he will slot in on the wing, across half-forward, even half-back. He has just got beautiful skills, is quick, can run the lines, a long kick. I think he is pretty impressive for a guy that has played only 10 senior games," Simpson said.

Worrying times

We hear there is growing concern about the mental health of one of the greats of the game, who is understood to have taken a turn for the worst in recent weeks. This player took many hits to the head during his storied career. Watch for the imminent release of the US film, Concussion, featuring Will Smith, to again raise the issue in local winter codes.

Big hit

We hear Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley is firmly in the running to head up Premier Daniel Andrews' committee to ensure there is greater gender equality on the boards of sporting associations. In the wake of a report commissioned by the government and led by Richmond Football Club president Peggy O'Neal, associations could lose 40 per cent of their funding unless changes are made.

Kick along

We have had record AFL and NRL broadcast rights deals, now Football Federation Australia is also after some lovin'. The A-League's current four-year deal of $160 million with SBS and Fox Sports expires next year, with officials understood to at least be after a contract worth $80 million annually. There has been little "cut through" on SBS, and it is hoped the initial interest shown by channels Ten, Nine and Seven morphs into serious interest for a competition which struggles to maintain media attention when the tennis and cricket take charge in December and January. 

Crowded house

In an already cramped sports media landscape, US giant ESPN has begun hiring journalists and editors at its Sydney base. Could the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports be ready to tackle the AFL and NRL? 

LOCAL HERO

Victorian soccer lost an inspirational figure during the week with the passing of Max Stern at 95. The passionate soccer man remained a registered player into his 10th decade and was well known for having a casual kick around on a Sunday morning in scratch matches at Caulfield Park, the home ground of his club – North Caulfield Maccabi. Club committee member Harvey Silver said Stern was "one in a million". "Never have I met or will I meet a person with such zest for life."

FAMILY TIES

Almost as big a talking post-Super Bowl talking point to Cam Newton's press conference, was Eli Manning's reaction to the moment Denver, led by his elder brother Peyton, sealed the game with a couple of minutes remaining.

The camera that was on a box where the Eli was watching showed scenes of jubilation from all but Eli. While others were cheering and lifting up children, Eli remained stony-faced.

His expression — a mixture of despair and incomprehension — has spawned dozens of memes on social media. He later said he was busy contemplating what options the Panthers had left. While on the Tonight Show, Peyton told host Jimmy Fallon that he "had seen that look before". Teasingly he said it was not the only time in his life where exciting news had been met with Eli's game face.

Got a tip? Contact Jon Pierik. Twitter: @pierik_agesport