This year’s AFL grand final umpiring panel will feature a new face, with Scott Jeffery to officiate in his first premiership decider.
Jeffery will be joined by experienced field umpires Matt Stevic and Simon Meredith for Saturday’s clash between Sydney and the Western Bulldogs.
Jeffery will umpire his first grand final after officiating in 308 AFL games, while Stevic and Meredith have umpired three grand finals each.
Stevic is likely to take the opening bounce after performing the task in last year’s grand final, which he described as the scariest, most nerve-wracking experience of his life.
He said the umpires wouldn’t be afraid to make tough decisions, but agreed they’ll have done their jobs if the game, not the umpires, are the main talking point.
“I think the best umpires still step in when required and take control but also blend into the game in a manner that is unobtrusive,” Stevic said.
“Ultimately (hopefully) the fans and everyone associated with the sport are talking about what a wonderful game it is.
“(But) we know we have a job to do and we need to make decisions – we’re not out there to not pay free kicks throughout the game.”
While he will be umpiring his first grand final, Jeffery is actually the most experienced of the trio having debuted in 2001.
His appointment is the culmination of a lot of hard work, but he admitted he missed the highly-anticipated call from umpires boss Hayden Kennedy when he rang to give him the good news.
“It was rather embarrassing – I sat around all morning waiting for it then went to do some training and he’d rung,” Jeffery said.
“I initially thought (I’d missed out) because Hayden does all the hard calls.
“But it was a pretty special call. It’s everything I’ve dreamt of and worked towards for a long time.”
Justin Schmitt was named as the emergency umpire for Saturday’s clash.