Channel Seven are unlikely to replace outgoing AFL commentary great Bruce McAvaney with outside talent, leaving one of their existing commentators to step up to the throne.
McAvaney, 67, announced last week that he would be stepping away from his commitments to calling the AFL but said he would continue to broadcast horse racing and the upcoming Olympic Games.
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However the fan favourite's absence leaves a hole in the network's commentary team, with the likes of James Brayshaw, Luke Darcy and Hamish McLachlan all reportedly in the running to take over from McAvaney.
According to the Herald Sun, Brayshaw will partner long-time caller Brian Taylor for the first six rounds of the 2021 AFL season, before McLachlan and Darcy earn their chance later in the season.
However it is Brayshaw who has the inside running to partner with Taylor long-term, according to reports.
All three candidates will be measured by how well they work with popular secondary caller Taylor, who has become a mainstay of the network's football coverage.
Former Footy Show host and media owner Craig Hutchison speculated Brayshaw and Taylor would be the preferred fit.
“I think the preferred team will be James and Brian on the Friday night and there’ll be a little flex here and there interstate,” Hutchison told the Sounding Board podcast.
“So they won’t commit hardcore to that, they’ll leave themselves the out on those two, but that would be the natural fit, wouldn’t it.”
Bruce McAvaney ready to step away from AFL commentary role
Apart from a five-year absence between 2002 and 2006 when Seven lost the TV rights, McAvaney has been at the front of the AFL's free-to-air coverage.
He has been behind the microphone for more than a thousand games, including 20 AFL grand finals, and formed a special partnership with Dennis Cometti.
"I felt like I got to a stage in my career where I had to reduce my workload," the 67-year-old told Seven News.
McAvaney bows out of football coverage on the eve of the 2021 season, but will continue on TV in other roles.
The versatile McAvaney will lead the network's horse racing productions and be involved in this year's Tokyo Olympics in July, where he shines in track and field coverage.
Despite battling leukaemia since 2017, McAvaney stressed his decision to step away from the AFL commentary was not health-related.
"I'm certainly not anything close to retirement, it's just a new phase, where I cut back slightly," he said.
"Anything I'm asked to do now I'm going to do with the same enthusiasm and same commitment."
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