Braith of fresh air, or too much hot wind? Anasta says he’s right man for TV hot seat, Brandy sorry for Maori gaffe

Braith Anasta, featured, Fox Sports, League, NRL 360

Braith Anasta was a polarising figure as a player and has had his fair share of critics as a commentator who light up social media about his opinions, so when he steps into the hosting chair for NRL 360 this year, it will be no different.

The former NSW and Australian five-eighth will occupy the hot seat next to co-host Paul Kent in 2022 while regular host Yvonne Sampson is away on maternity leave.

Speaking at the Fox League launch on Tuesday for the season ahead, Anasta said he was nervous about taking on the NRL 360 assignment but said he felt he had the runs on the board to bring his perspective to the show.

“I stepped in and made my debut as a teenager and I’ve done a bit of coaching and I’ve been here at Fox for 15 years and I’m an accredited agent now,” he said

“So I’d like to think I see the game from every angle, I’ve got a lot of perspective on the game. I’ve lived it, I’ve breathed it.”

Anasta, who made his debut for Canterbury in 2000, was part of the Bulldogs’ premiership-winning team four years later in a turbulent 110-game stint at the club.

Although he was adored by Dogs fans and selected to represent the Blues in 10 Origins and the Kangaroos in four Tests, he was also named the most over-rated player in the game on multiple occasions in the Rugby League Weeks players’ poll, which he later admitted brought him to tears at the time.

Anasta also played 147 games with the Roosters from 2006-12 before ending his career with a 31-game two-season burst at the Wests Tigers to finish with 288 NRL games.

“To get the opportunity is an honour for me,” Anasta said.

“I love the show, I’m excited about it, I’m looking forward to working with Kenty. I respect Kenty a lot and the other journos but it’s going to be an interesting year ahead, I’m a little bit nervous but excited at the same time.

“The game is ever evolving and for me, I was pretty much born into rugby league with my uncle George,” he added in reference to his famous relative, Rabbitohs legend George Piggins.

“What I love about the show is it’s real. Every day we’ve got big topics and it’s just like we’re at home really, we’re discussing it around the dinner table and at your local golf club or bowls club, so I think I can bring my own element to the show.”

NRL 360, which screens Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, is scheduled to return on March 7 in the lead-up to round one, which kicks off with premiers Penrith hosting Manly on March 10.

Meanwhile, former Kiwi international Issac Luke has received an apology from Fox League commentator Greg Alexander after he called out on social media that he needed to learn how to pronounce Maori correctly.

Luke wants to see Maori and Indigenous commentators get air time instead of regular callers like Andrew Voss when the All Stars is played again next year, which is likely to be played in New Zealand.

“Surely we get some indigenous and Maori commentary next year. No disrespect to vossy. But surely. Be crack up hearing someone like Bush tucker bunji or a mana Māori commentator. Greg Alexander needs to pronounce our name properly or gap it.”

“It was pretty disturbing,” Luke told the ABC. “I almost watched it on mute. Me, my mum and brother, and I’m sure many other people were too, getting more and more furious as the game went on.”

Alexander was remorseful but said he was unaware of his gaffes when contacted by the ABC.

“I’m sorry that Issac and others feel hurt from how I was pronouncing the name,” Alexander said. “At no time would I purposely disrespect either culture, but I have, so I apologise for that.

“No one has explained to me the difference and that actually saying ‘mow-ree’ is disrespectful. No one’s ever said that to me, ever.”

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