Channel 9’s Today host Karl Stefanovic has been left in stitches after a weekly football discussion went off the rails with a discussion over the AFL’s “slippery balls”.
One of the big talking points this week in AFL circles came after Collingwood president and Fox Footy commentator Eddie McGuire brought up the idea that the Sherrin balls are too slippery which would explain the poor skills in round two.
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With the AFL just one week back following almost three months off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was always expected to take some time for the league to get back into the swing of things.
But following a lacklustre return, including a record low scoring draw in the Collingwood-Richmond blockbuster to restart the competition, McGuire pointed to the slippery Sherrin as one of the issues.
Speaking on his Triple M Hot Breakfast show, McGuire called for a rethink of the balls after the first week back after the coronavirus suspension delivered some less than spectacular performances.
“I don’t know whether they’ve put another coat of varnish on the footballs, but no one can seem to grab it,” McGuire told Triple M on Monday.
“I reckon it’s almost time for us to put a roughcast or even … you know the rugby league balls how they’ve got the rubber knobs on them.
“If there is any sort of dew or bit of wetness … the ball just goes straight through their hands.
“It’s as hard as anything at the ends of the ball, and they’re as slippery as all … at the moment.
“I reckon it’s stuffing up the game as a spectacle because no one can control the ball, it’s just going straight through their hands.”
But on Thursday’s show, AFL legend Shane Crawford was asked for his thoughts on the talking point and with a mischievous grin, he dropped a hilarious line that brought Today host Karl Stefanovic to tears of laughter.
“Eddie’s got to button his lip,” Crawford said. “He wants to change the rules all the time, he wants to change the balls now. It’s a winter sport, it was dewy last week — sometimes you’ve got to play with slippery balls.”
After some grins from his co-panellists, the camera cut to Karl who covered his face and unable to speak.
But Crawford wasn’t done, seizing the moment: “We’ve all done it haven’t we Karl?”
“What are you bringing me up for?” Stefanovic responded through his laughter. “I’ve got a six week old.”
Crawford rammed home his point saying “It’s a winter game, sometimes the balls are slippery and you’ve just got to work with that.”
Former NRL star Sam Thaiday added “I played 16 years with slippery balls” before a headshake.
Stefanovic’s co-host Allison Langdon then got it back on track but it’s always great to have a bit of childishness in the argument.
It comes after AFL stars Jack Riewoldt and Max Gawn responded to McGuire’s claims as fans call for a more attractive brand of football.
Melbourne captain Gawn admitted he had “no idea” if the Sherrins were to blame for poor handling, but revealed he found it easier to mark the red footy used in day games compared to the yellow footy used at night, while Richmond forward Riewoldt suggested the dew at night games was a factor behind ball-handling issues.
“I don’t know. It was pretty slippery on Thursday night, and I imagine it was pretty slippery down at Geelong on Friday night,” Riewoldt said. “Usually you come across those conditions in Queensland a fair bit and the boys up there seem to adapt to it pretty well.