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‘I’ve seen it go horribly wrong’: The secret commentary stunt and why Sean Maloney won’t go there

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Editor
20th April, 2022
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As if the very high wire act of live sports commentary wasn’t precarious and nerve wracking enough, some callers like to spice things up with an extra layer of jeopardy.

But Stan Sport’s rugby caller Sean Maloney has seen it go wrong too many times to fall victim to this peculiar stroke of self confidence.

Maloney joined our experts Brett McKay and Harry Jones for a hilarious edition of The Roar Rugby podcast, where they talked about his personal journey as a caller, and the traps and pressures of calling games live.

Stream the podcast here or like and subscribe in your app of choice. The Roar Rugby Podcast is out every Wednesday.

Maloney was asked by Harry about a lawyer/commentator trick where they were set up by friends or colleagues to drop a specific word or phrase into their addresses or calls.

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Maloney recalled his experience five years ago when working on a show for Fox Sports alongside former player Stephen Hoiles, whose attempt at meeting this particular challenge backfired horribly after a match between England and Australia.

Hoiles’ press conference question to Jones was: “The lads were pumped up, there was a bit of moisture out there and I think you and Glen [Ella] had a good moment, looked lubed up and a fair bit of shrinkage. How did you enjoy that moment with your old mate Glen up in the box?”

Jones told Hoiles he didn’t like the tone of the question before later describing Fox Sports’ treatment of the series as “demeaning and disrespectful to the team”.

“I’ve seen it go horribly wrong,” said Maloney on The Roar Rugby Podcast.

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“I won’t name a former colleague who used to make a real go of doing it and would engage the OB [outside broadcast] truck and get them to give him words and it went horribly pear-shaped.

“I further learnt my lesson on that front when I was part of the now infamous 2016 England vs. Australia post game press conference that got my colleague Stephen Hoiles chased off Twitter, chased out of the press conference, lambasted by Eddie Jones and lambasted by every single member of the English press.

“We had to offer an apology to Eddie and the rest of the England team before our first show – that was the first time that ever happened. I don’t think I’ll ever play word bingo again!”

The interview gives some great insight into the job of a commentator – how to let moments breathe, the level of preparation required and how he’s been influenced by countless Saturday and Sundays hungover watching Simpsons episodes or Will Ferrell movies on the couch.

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Maloney also has an interesting take on one thing that plenty of people get worked up over – the pronunciation of names.

“I copped a lot of s— last year on Instagram, which is meant to be a bit of a safe place from random dickheads, ripping into me over Marika Koroibete’s pronunciation.

“I sat there with the guy and he told me to my face, with his own lips, how he wanted his name pronounced and I’m replicating that for him! Even when you get it right you still cop some stick.”

Some players are eager to have their culture represented by the authentic pronunciation, but not all.

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Maloney asked how Izzy Perese wanted to be called – with suggestions from others that it should have a ‘h’ sound in the middle.

“He said ‘just call me Izzy Perese [pe-reasy] , and then add on the end, sickest bloke out there’.”

Harry Jones and Brett McKay are joined by NZ writer Jamie Wall to look at the crisis engulfing the All Blacks in the latest Roar Rugby Podcast. Stream it here or in your app of choice

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