AFL 2023: Channel 7 commentary team Shake up shows Jobe Watson is next big star

Channel Seven has locked in its replacement for Wayne Carey.

The network on Tuesday confirmed three-time Essendon best and fairest winner Jobe Watson has been promoted to feature more regularly as the designated expert commentator for Saturday night games.

The free-to-air-network has continued to tinker with the Saturday night role following the decision last year to promote Daisy Pearce to the Friday night prime time broadcasts, bumping Carey to the Saturday slot.

With Carey’s contract with the network not being extended beyond 2022, it was reported in February Seven was committed to rotating a number of star commentators in the Saturday night role, including Watson and Jimmy Bartel.

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Now the network has confirmed Watson will be the primary option and will also make appearances on Thursday nights and is emerging as the next big star.

Carey was dumped from Seven’s football coverage earlier this year following a scandal outside Perth’s Crown casino involving a bag of a white powdered substance.

Watson has filled smaller roles on Seven’s commentary team over the past few years after he started as a boundary rider during his year off in 2014.

Watson’s father Tim, himself a legend of the sport having been inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame and having won three premierships with Essendon, has been one of the country’s leading football commentators since his retirement in the mid-1990s, and is set to commentate alongside his son this year.

Former All-Australian Dale Thomas will take on boundary riding duties in prime time after Pearce triggered a commentary shake up when accepting an assistant coaching role at Geelong that will see her become Seven’s Thursday night expert commentator.

Those changes are some of many such moves Seven has announced across its AFL department.

Geelong captain Patrick Dangerfield will also continue to make appearances as a member of the commentary team.

The network’s squad of star commentators includes Pearce, Watson, Luke Hodge, Matthew Richardson, Shaun Burgoyne, Erin Phillips, Leigh Matthews, Tim Watson, Cameron Ling, Nathan Jones, Chris Johnson, Abbey Holmes, Jude Bolton, Mark Soderstrom, Ryan Daniels, Nigel Carmody and Campbell Brown.

Seven is sticking with play-by-play callers Brian Taylor, James Brayshaw, Hamish McLachlan, Alister Nicholson, Jason Bennett and Luke Darcy.

Seven has axed the Game Day and Talking Footy shows, but new projects have now been announced, including:

— Retired Geelong premiership hero Joel Selwood will conduct interviews with AFL club captains in a “Leaders” segment to feature in pre-game coverage.

— A “Saturday Scoop” show will feature journalists Nat Edwards and Mitch Cleary.

Seven’s Head of Network Sport Lewis Martin said: “Jobe Watson is a champion player and a champion person, and we look forward to hearing him more on Seven’s AFL coverage in 2023 on key matches across Thursday nights, Saturday nights and Sundays.”

Martin described the squad as “football’s best, most talented and most experienced commentary line-up”.

All nine matches of every round of the 2023 season will remain live on Fox Footy.

The Foxtel network has responded to the departure of Saints legend Nick Riewoldt with another star-studded team for 2023.

Fox’s team will include Garry Lyon Nathan Buckley, Jonathan Brown, Anthony Hudson, Dwayne Russell, Mark Howard, Kelli Underwood, Adam Papalia, Jason Dunstall, Gerard Healy, David King, Jordan Lewis, Nick Dal Santo, Mark Ricciuto, Matthew Pavlich, Brad Johnson and Cameron Mooney.

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