THE FAT MAN IS PRIMED
Yes, there is life after football; for Paul Vautin, the happy reality is it’s more of the same, writes Debbie Schipp. The NRL Footy Show host has clocked up 20 years in the show despite his expectations it would never last, but now it’s moving to a prime-
THE FOOTY SHOW Thursday 9.45pm, Nine
THE starting line-up has changed, the reserves have been bloodied, and some off-season buys and rising stars have been blended into the mix.
As the NRL Footy Show enters its 20th year, host and Queenslander Paul ‘‘Fatty’’ Vautin says the team is primed for its move to prime time with an 8.30pm Thursday timeslot after round 4.
As he celebrates his own 20-year milestone on the show that gave him a career after he retired from rugby league in 1991, Vautin is still counting his blessings.
When he and fellow former player Peter Sterling launched the show 20 years ago, Vautin, who represented Australia 17 times and Queensland 22 times, confesses he didn’t think it would last a week.
‘‘Seriously, after the first show, I remember walking out with Peter, because everything went wrong, nothing worked, and we weren’t that good, and saying, ‘Mate, we’re gone. They’ll never put us on air again’,’’ Vautin recalls.
Clearly something went right. Because two decades on, the show remains a fixture of the NRL season.
Vautin happily concedes there are plenty that don’t like the show. Equally, there are just as many who have made it as much a part of their league season as a half-time pie.
The secret, he believes, is keeping The Footy Show team fresh, and getting the mix of entertainment and chat about the game itself right.
The show’s 20th anniversary year will see some new talent, and a return to some old, with Darryl ‘‘The Big Marn’’ Brohman, Nine sports commentator Michael Slater, Sharks player Beau Ryan, Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall, Nine News sports reporter Erin Molan, former rugby league great Gorden Tallis and footy larrikin Mario Fenech back for the year. Queensland sports reporter Yvonne Sampson also joins the crew, reporting rugby league news from the Sunshine State.
‘‘Yvonne Sampson, she’s our new recruit. She reads the weekend sports news up there (in Queensland) and she’s a great talent as well,’’ Vautin says.
‘‘We’re just going to mix it up and see what works; not everything will work, but we’re going to have a go anyway.’’
Vautin never imagined he’d host the show for 20 years but continues to love every minute and, with a newly-inked two-year deal with Nine, is continuing to enjoy the changing face of the show.
‘‘I always said to Sterlo (Peter Sterling), once our good looks deserted us we might fall by the wayside, but we’re still hanging in there,’’ he jokes.
‘‘I think the main thing is a couple of us are getting on, like myself and Darryl, we always try to keep it fresh by bringing on what the viewers really want to see, and that’s the current rugby league stars.
‘‘We’ve got Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm) on quite a bit this year and they love Benji (Marshall).’’
NRL star power aside, Vautin says The Footy Show’s biggest boost in the past few years has been Tigers-turned-Sharks player Beau Ryan, who continues to play at top level, as well as filing hilarious spots for the show.
Good life: Paul Vautin enjoys the funny side of the footy scene.