'The world's best kept sporting secret' - Everything you need to know about Aussie Rules as AFL returns to BT Sport

Everything you need to know about how to watch the AFL on BT Sport as Aussie Rules returns with a blockbuster double header on Thursday, June 11

Published: 8 June 2020 - 4.37pm

Aussie Rules returns to BT Sport this week with the resumption of the AFL season

BT Sport’s live sport offering is about to get even better with the return of Aussie Rules and the resumption of the AFL season.

Australia’s most popular sport is back with a bang and BT Sport is offering fans more insight and analysis than ever before with pre and post-game analysis of each televised match.

Our coverage of the 2020 AFL season resumes on Thursday June 11 with a mouth-watering double header as Hawthorn take on Brisbane Lions before two powerhouse clubs go toe-to-toe as Collingwood host Richmond from 10.15am. 

To get sports fans up to speed with all things Aussie Rules, we jumped on a Zoom call with the new host of BT Sport’s live AFL coverage, Ollie Geale, ahead of two blockbuster games on Thursday morning.

For viewers who haven’t watched a lot of Aussie Rules in the past, why should they tune in?

“I could give you a thousand reasons but the one sentence that sums it up is: it’s the world’s best-kept sporting secret.

“Being able to watch it now is like letting people into the secret club.

“It’s really got something for everyone. It’s got elements of basketball, the physicality of rugby or NFL, the fights of ice hockey and sheer, unbelievable athleticism.

“Cycling or athletics fans will be in awe... in certain positions these guys run anywhere between 20 and 25 kilometres a game.

“Meanwhile, they’re still having to think about kicking, hand-balling, tackling and strategy – there’s a lot going on!

“I feel pretty confident that someone watching the AFL for the first time would find three or four things they loved about the game.

“Once people have got a grasp of the rules people will walk away going: ‘I cannot wait to watch the next game’.”

Can you bring us up to speed with what viewers might have missed from round one?

“There was only one round of games before the league was suspended so we’re effectively at the start of the season.

“Richmond and Collingwood, who we’ll be showing on Thursday, both won, which was highly expected.

“The common takeaway from everyone that I’ve been speaking to is that it’s the start of the season because it’s been two months since the last game so it’s all to play for.”

And who are the players we need to watch out for?

“What the AFL has done really well is not just to hype up the lifelong supporters but also people who might be tuning in having watched only a couple of games.

“Every game in the opening weekend is a blockbuster.

“Imagine Manchester United vs Liverpool, Arsenal vs Tottenham… every game has a storyline and Thursday’s game between Richmond and Collingwood is packed with big names.

“Dusty [Dustin] Martin for Richmond has been the player to watch in the modern era.

“He’s got the neck tattoos, a two metre-wide wingspan and a patented stiff-arm move called the ‘Don’t Argue’, which has become iconic.

“From a Collingwood standpoint Mason Cox is brilliant to watch.

“He’s the tallest player ever in the AFL and he’s also the only American playing in the league.

“I’d say Richmond’s side is also full of entertainers as well as good players which is what I think the AFL is all about.

“They’re incredible athletes, they’re machines, but they also understand the need to entertain on the big stage."

Dustin Martin has been the AFL's most recognisable star for the last 10 years

Who are the early favourites to win the competition?

“It’s very competitive at the top.

“Unlike the Premier League it’s not based on the ladder, there’s an eight-team play-off for the chance to compete in the Grand Final.

“Four years ago the Western Bulldogs won the competition after finishing seventh in the regular season, which shows how competitive it really is.

“Richmond are going for their third flag in four years so they’re certainly the team to catch.

“But this year in particular it could be the fittest team in the league that wins.

“Quarters have been shortened from 20 minutes to 16 minutes so it’s going to be snappier and more fast-paced.

“It’s going to be fascinating. I think it will take about five weeks to get a good grasp on this season’s top contenders.”

For British sports fans, are there any helpful Premier League comparisons to get us up to speed?

"Collingwood were the first ever team in the AFL so they would be your Manchester United – everyone loves to hate them.

"GWS are the newest team in the league, they’re about 12 years old so they don’t really have any history as a club.

"But they’ve been able to get all the best youngsters, they’ve got all the flashy boots, they’re young and exciting but they haven’t won anything yet so they would be your Tottenham!"

BT Sport's coverage of the 2020 AFL season resumes on Thursday June 11 with a mouth-watering double header as Hawthorn take on Brisbane Lions before two powerhouse clubs go toe-to-toe as Collongwood host Richmond. 

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