The photo that has Erin Molan fans upset
It is the photo that set tongues wagging this week: Andrew "Joey" Johns standing next to a young female league host at Nine's 2020 NRL line-up launch that wasn't Erin Molan.
While those close to Molan say she was visiting family in Canberra and unable to make the important event, the image suggests Molan is no longer Nine's main NRL reporter following the bitter fallout with former NRL star Johns.
In Molan's absence Johns was front and centre alongside up-and-coming journalist Dannika Mason at Thursday's NRL On Nine launch.
While it is understood Molan will continue to work with Nine and their NRL coverage in some hosting capacity in 2020, her absence suggests she has been replaced by sports journalist Mason, who was named in the new on-air squad alongside former players Jonathan Thurston, Sam Thaiday, Paul Gallen, Billy Slater and Allana Ferguson, and journalist James Bracey.
Mason is highly regarded in league circles and has been cutting her teeth in Canterbury Cup coverage this season. She hosted one night on Thursday Night Football in September and was used as the sideline eye during the season.
When Mason shared the image of the line-up to her Instagram page, followers were quick to notice the glaring omission, with finny2494 asking, "where's Erin?".
Deb Meddows commented, "no Erin, Joey back".
At the launch Mason stood next to the women's trophy, while Bracey, who anchored this year's grand final, stood next to the men's trophy, further hinting that Molan will not have a prominent role during next year's NRL coverage.
The snub comes after Nine failed to organise a mediation session for Molan and Johns, with Molan, who continues to nurse a broken arm, keen to patch things up given their strong working relationship in the past.
She was barely on air during Nine's grand final coverage and international schedule and believed to be concentrating only on reading the weekend news alongside Deb Knight.
Molan, reputedly one of the hardest working journalists at the Nine headquarters, is said to be upset by recent events and suffered distress when the fallout became public at the end of the 2019 season.
While ex-rugby league players seem to have the security of long-term contracts, Channel 9's history of disposing of women after a certain amount of time continues.