G'day Australia, Welcome to your new local edition of ESPN.com, where you'll now find a little fair-dinkum flavour to go with everything you've come to love from the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
AFL, NRL, V8 Supercars and netball now sit proudly alongside NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, soccer, cricket, rugby union, college sports, tennis, golf, Formula 1 ... all covered in-depth with the rigour and diligence, style and swagger, that you expect from ESPN. Most importantly, we know and understand that you, the audience and the fans, are the reason we are here.
We're sports fans, too. All of us. Front and centre. First and foremost. We love sport; we get sport; and hence we know and understand your passion no matter where it lies. We've lived Australia II, Aloisi's penalty, Media Puzzle, Steven Bradbury, Alisa Camplin, Cathy Freeman, the Ball of the Century, Lydia Lassila's bung knee and redemption, Jane Saville's tears, Anna Meares finally defeating her nemesis in London ... that's us alongside you around the water cooler discussing the touchstone moments from the sporting fields.
We're committed to bringing you more because we know you want more. We want more. And we want to give it with passion. You want more thoughtful analysis and reports of the Aussies in Action overseas. Can we explain the slump of Ben Simmons' LSU Tigers? Can we envision the Bogut's-eye view of Steph Curry's wizardry?
Nick Kyrgios, Tim Cahill, Sally Pearson, Joel Wilkinson, the Campbell sisters, Dasha Gavrilova, the Southern Stars ... they're just some of the names on our radar in this Olympic year.
To bring you the best of the local sports scene, we've signed some of the smartest names in the business to inform, entertain and engage you with wit and wisdom.
Nick Riewoldt is approaching his 11th season as St Kilda captain and will shortly tick above 300 games. There is little he does not know about Australia's indigenous game; he'll bring an insider's view of the AFL while stretching his legs occasionally beyond the boundary, and you're sure to enjoy his opening thoughts on leadership and what it means, and involves, to be a successful leader inside and outside sport. The new ESPN.com is the only place you will find Riewoldt's columns and you will also get an inside view to him as a passionate NFL fan, and devoted season-pass holder for his beloved Houston Texans.
Riewoldt is joined in our AFL team by dual premiership winner Jude Bolton, who played 325 games for Sydney Swans and promises to get to the heart of the story with the ferocity that marked his contested ball winning, tackling and hardness at the contest. Bolton will also front up with his AFL tips via video each week, and we will also chat with him about the big AFL issues.
On the NRL front we are proud to have the exclusive insight of one of the best analysts in the game -- Brett Kimmorley. 'Noddy' brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of rugby league to our team, the former Kangaroos Test half-back having won the 1999 NRL Premiership with Melbourne Storm and featured prominently in New South Wales Blues' sweep of the 2000 State of Origin series. His previews for the coming NRL season, and opening assessment of Johnathan Thurston among sport's greatest of all time, are must reads.
Brad Haddin has joined the ESPNcricinfo team, as the epitome of the "tough and uncompromising" modern-day wicketkeeper; he was never afraid to chirp from behind the stumps, and he will provide forthright analysis and opinion around the official ICC video highlights clips we will carry for the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 tournament in India and through to Cricket World Cup 2019.
Stephanie Brantz brings 20 years in sports media, with a particular passion for football and women's sport. Brantz is a trusted sports broadcaster who you will see a lot across our video coverage and her experience is usurped in our team only by Greg Growden -- one of the Godfathers of Australia's sporting media. Growden has a new remit to call on his 30-plus years' experience to cover a little more than rugby union; you can still expect his compelling rugby insight, but be prepared to forget your every preconception.
But don't for a minute think that localisation means simply covering the action on your doorstep.
The new ESPN.com Australia edition will still provide gold-standard in reporting the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and college sports, with the NCAA Tournament just around the corner. ESPNFC and ESPNcricinfo will still provide the most comprehensive global coverage of soccer and cricket respectively. And the best of those platforms will be found in one place, for ease of discovery: ESPN.com Australia edition.
We have a series of developments to come, none more immediately than our digital rights to show ICC cricket highlights for the next four years -- starting with the ICC World Twenty20 in India that begins March 8. That's some way to launch our Australia edition in one of the biggest years in sport.
And make no mistake, this IS one of the biggest sports years yet. We seem to say that every year; but can this be anything other with the most amazing race for the English Premier League featuring Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur, the expectations that Simmons will go No. 1 in the NBA Draft, the amazing magic carpet ride of Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry (they are qualified for the playoffs already), an NRL competition expected to be among the most open ever ... and that's just some of the action before we get to the European football championships and Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro -- both to be covered extensively by ESPN on site.
Australia is the ninth local edition launched by ESPN since the completely rebuilt US and UK editions in April 2015; this is going to be some ride, and we're looking forward to being there with you to indulge your passion and desire for the best sports content around.
Yours in sport ... serving you anytime, anywhere.
Andy Withers Managing Editor