Rob Houwing

Mallett signs for more TV work

2013-01-11 08:36
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
At least for the time being, it would seem that Nick Mallett, one of the rugby planet’s smartest brains, will continue to prioritise his budding career as a television pundit, ahead of any possibilities as a coach or perhaps director of rugby somewhere.

I understand from a SuperSport insider that the big fellow with the booming and fearless voice has been nailed down for a new contract with them, which will see him regularly on our screens through the 2013 season.

Unsurprisingly, there is always speculation that he may be coaxed back into coaching, where he made his primary mark in a record-breaking run at the Springbok reins in the late 1990s.

But it seems he is enjoying his current, relatively stress-reduced position in a media capacity, where the response to his eternally blunt, candid and articulate input has been overwhelmingly positive, I suspect.

Broadly speaking, South African TV sports pundits - not just in rugby - tend to be fairly reserved and polite in judgements of play and players: Mallett certainly explodes that characteristic, doesn’t he?

SuperSport themselves are aware of the great feedback the former WP and Bok loose forward generates, so presumably he is being well looked after, as they say.

I understand that he has family links in Johannesburg, which makes the regular commute from his Cape Town home more bearable as it means he doesn’t always have to spend his nights in the often claustrophobic confines of hotel rooms.

Incidentally, a lament I had last season was that sometimes we didn’t get enough of his halftime thoughts on matches, given the inevitable, high volume of ads squeezed in during that time: might that change a wee bit for the better with SANZAR stretching the interval for Super Rugby matches from 10 to 12 minutes?

Victor Matfield, of course, will be a TV “casualty” this year as he has returned to full-time duty on the Bulls’ coaching panel.

I was iffy about Big Vic on SuperSport: he was too sporadic in terms of real insight, although I will miss his often spot-on suggestions as to where the ball would be thrown in the lineout, of course ...

Rob’s Awesome Foursome

1. South Africa v New Zealand, second cricket Test
Port Elizabeth, to Tuesday 10:00, SS2, SH2 & CSN

What price this second and final encounter of the series being a repeat of Newlands, time-wise, and only lasting three days? I suggest we will see greater durability from the Black Caps on this occasion, especially as they may have taken some heart from their second-innings response to that hapless 45 all out on day (sorry, morning) one. For interest’s sake, here are the totals registered by the teams batting first in the last five Tests at St George’s Park: West Indies 408 v SA (Dec 2007), SA 124 v Pakistan (Jan 2007), SA 337 v England (Dec 2004), SA 362 v India (Nov 2001) and NZ 298 v SA (Nov 2000). I imagine the Kiwis would fairly gratefully bank that score from 2000, should they take first dig ...

2. South Africa v Algeria, international soccer friendly
Soweto, Saturday 20:30, SABC1, SS4 & SHD4

I have only ever been present at one game featuring Algeria, the World Cup 2010 meeting with the always hyped, always under-delivering England at Cape Town Stadium. On that occasion, the African underdogs held the supposed superpower to a goalless draw – and with many in the international media focussing primarily on England’s lethargy, I recall thinking the Algerian spirit did not get enough credit at the time. They are currently second highest-ranked team in Africa, so there must be a real danger that Bafana’s oh-so-frustrating midweek loss to Norway (despite dominance in many areas) may be followed at Orlando Stadium by another setback in both scoreboard and morale terms ahead of AFCON ...  

3. Arsenal v Manchester City, English Premiership soccer
London, Sunday 18:00, SS3, SHD3 & Maximo

We have a bit of a Super Sunday on our hands; I have no doubt that many followers of the Premiership will gear themselves for a slothful double-header on the couch: this potentially attractive, open contest is preceded by the old Mancs-meet-Scousers war in the north-west, when leaders Manchester United host Liverpool at Old Trafford (15:30 SA time). While I more clearly have to favour the Red Devils for the “curtain-raiser”, the Gunners, who banged in seven (shhh, against my side of choice Newcastle) in their last Emirates Stadium game, probably believe they can at the very least hold champions City?

4. Australian Open tennis championships
Melbourne, from Monday 02:00, SS1 & SHD

This traditional, first Grand Slammer of the year in the often sweltering Victoria capital scored low when we asked readers in a poll some time ago which of the quartet of keynote tennis events they most liked monitoring – both this one and the US Open got flimsy, single-figure percentages whilst Wimbledon bossed it by a landslide, with fairly sizeable support also going to the French. But it is understandable why South Africans ranked the first-named two so poorly: primarily because time zone differences make for massively unfavourable viewing slots in our neck of the woods. Tennis, generally, is experiencing an encouraging new wave of global appeal and I can’t wait to see, especially, whether Novak Djokovic can make it a hat-trick of Oz men’s titles. Red-eye watchers in SA also get some bursts of coverage on CSN, by the way.

Read more on:    rob houwing  |  nick mallett  |  rugby

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