ALISON NOLAN of the Sydney RBN had a chance to catch up with Erin and ask her about her love of rugby, her role on the NRL Rookie, the emerging platform of women’s sport, having a high profile father and her passion for charity work.
You are well-known for your love of rugby, and your support of the Raiders, but what about The Brumbies?
I love the Brumbies. My first ever reporting gig was in local rugby union in Canberra on the John I Dent Cup, and then I moved to WIN TV covering The Brumbies for 3 years. I was a rugby union fan before I was a rugby league fan. The Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Jeremy Paul era of Brumbies was my favourite. I actually have a signed Brumbies jersey at home, presented to me when I left the role at WIN TV for Channel 9 in 2010.
We have the Bledisloe Cup coming up, how do you think Australia will fare?
I am cautiously optimistic – a phrase I stole from my father. I know in Union they have not performed to their potential on the world stage recently, but I feel we are building towards something.
As well as your Channel 9 duties on The Footy Show, you are also co-hosting The NRL Rookie. What has surprised you working on this program?
This is my first foray into reality TV and I was unsure what to expect. I have loved the whole experience. It’s not like Big Brother, as football was a focus for all of them. I was surprised initially that they could all play. Freddie and I were worried that it would be a bunch of good-looking boys, chosen for audience appeal, and they would not be able to play. They are actually wonderful players, genuine and authentic. It is the first time I have seen men in mixed-living situations and they are worse than girls. There is lots of bickering and arguing over who made a mess, so I found that hilarious!
I knew it would be a lot more filming than the footage that went to air, but it was so much more. Freddie and I would be regularly shooting overnight, and I was still doing my Channel 9 job in the day. So for example, after the Grand Final last year at 9pm, Freddie and I headed off to Allianz to film until 1am. From that 4 hours filming, there were 40 seconds of footage. It is awful, as you are ending someone’s dream when you tell them they are going home. What is worse is that then they have to come back and reshoot from 6 angles, so you have to avoid awkward eye contact and re-set. Thankfully, Freddie has to actually announce who would be leaving.
From your viewpoint in the media, do you think the rapidly developing women’s sporting platform in Australia at the elite level with Cricket, Soccer, Netball, AFL and Rugby 7’s will have an impact on the most traditional codes and the men’s game?
In the near future, I don’t think that women’s team sports that are traditionally male will threaten the viewing of the male sports game. We had the Rugby League International Test recently followed by the women’s game straight after and the ratings were incredible. So it’s a great opportunity for women’s sport to piggyback off the popularity of male sport to increase opportunities and coverage.
If you look at the recent Netball Grand Final it was great TV. It’s always been predominantly female and played at the highest level, and once this goes free-to-air next year, it could challenge the ratings of AFL and League as it is so entertaining. The girls are such great ambassadors, and if I had kids, I would want them to look up to these women.
And it’s so good to watch!
The platform has definitely grown. It’s not so much that we are embracing it more, or that there are more women on TV reporting on sport or we suddenly decided women have a place. There used to be only 3 free-to-air channels and now there are 100 channels which creates so many more avenues, opportunities and shows for women to be on TV in prime time and to show women’s sport.
It’s not tokenistic because it rates. Networks are not charities, and they won’t put things on TV that don’t make them money. How can they ever compete with the standard of men’s sport? Women who play for the Jillaroos or AFL or women’s soccer can’t compete at the level the men do as the men train 8 hours per day and are paid to do that. The women are working and lose money to play by taking time off work and they do incredibly well in the situation they have. They need to make them full-time professionals and then they will rival any men’s game of any sport.
You will be presenting with your Dad at the RBN, the first time you have presented together.
Yes, it’s fantastic, this is the first time. We have been at a lot of events together but have never spoken together.
Dad was away for a very large chunk of my childhood, but it was incredible and meant I was exposed to the most amazing lifestyle. I went to 16 different schools as we moved around a lot, which at the time was difficult. But when I think about it now, I can speak another language, I can walk into any room and not feel intimidated. I can speak to people I don’t know. All of these skills you develop by constantly settling into somewhere new and are invaluable.
What is it like having such a high profile father?
He is still a Major General at heart, but he has softened so much since he retired, which is lovely to see. He was always an incredible Dad. I have a beautiful partner now, but I often used to say that I am single because I can’t find anyone who is as impressive as my Dad is. I don’t know anyone who is more brave, smart, more caring or does the right thing or works harder – except for Mum.
I get emotional because I can’t speak highly enough of him and the life that he has given us. Even though we did share him with a lot of people, and he was away and his job was a priority, we never suffered and he was the best role model you could ask for.
It is funny, though, because I grew up with ‘you are Jim Molan’s daughter’, and then about 5 or 6 years ago he became ‘my Dad’ and he said his life was over as all he gets now is, “Are you Erin Molan’s Dad?!”
You are heavily involved in a number of charities, tell us a little about what drives this?
I do a lot of charity work and I feel strongly about many charities, but Bowel Cancer Australia is the one I feel most strongly about as my sister was diagnosed at the age of 27 with this, so Dad and I are both passionate about it.
Raising awareness is so crucial as it doesn’t just happen to older men, although men in the 30-70 age group are the core risk group. I encourage them to get tested, it is so easy. The only good thing about Bowel Cancer is that it is so curable. 90% of cases can be cured if found early enough but it is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia because no one talks about it.
The past 3-4 years we have started to have a more public conversation and it is gaining a higher profile. I actually received the Colorectal Surgical Society Award from Surgeons who operate solely on bowel cancer who said I have done more to raise awareness in 2 years than they have in 50 years. That was more impressive to me than a Logie or a Walkley as it meant the world.