Over the past two months, critics have been lining up to take pot shots at Erin Molan after the Channel Nine presenter seemingly made fun of Pacific Island player names.
However, it was the bold words of one Samoan NRL star that has left her feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
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The rugby league presenter came under fire last month after saying “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka” on a 2GB radio segment - seemingly poking fun at the names of NRL players.
It was reported at the time that Molan was referencing an "inside joke" she shared with colleagues - a claim the 37-year-old journalist has denied.
NRL stars Martin Taupau and Braden Hamlin-Uele were among those players to lash out at Molan, accusing the presenter of being racist.
Addin Fonua-Blake and John Hopoate were also scathing of Molan, who was the target of widespread criticism online.
Over the weekend, however, Wests Tigers star Josh Aloiai - himself a Samoa international - decided to stand up for the under-fire media personality.
Aloiai told The Sydney Morning Herald that players such as Taupau and Fonua-Blake "need to do their research" instead of trusting what he called "irresponsible reporting from the Daily Mail".
"I’m going to be very blunt: I’m angry and disappointed with what has been said about Erin in the Pacific Island community and she is owed an apology from everyone who has attacked her," Aloiai said.
"It is disgusting and horrible what happened to Erin.”
On Sunday, Molan took to social media to thank Aloiai for his support, admitting that his touching words left her blown away.
Josh Aloiai reached out to me privately last month & offered me support - I gratefully accepted it & told him that was enough - that he shouldn’t do anything publicly - @Danny_Weidler piece today blew me away. It’s not easy to do what Josh has done and I’ll never forget it 🙏— Erin Molan (@Erin_Molan) July 19, 2020
Josh Aloiai reached out to me privately last month & offered me support - I gratefully accepted it and told him that was enough - that he shouldn’t do anything publicly," Molan tweeted.
"It’s not easy to do what Josh has done and I’ll never forget it," she added.
Aloiai says Molan is owed an apology
Manly forward Taupau was among the most vocal critics of Molan, who he accused of disrespecting the culture of Pacific Island players.
“Understandable for our non-Pasifika community attempting to properly announce our names, but to disrespect and make a mockery of former/current Pasifika players in the NRL like how you carried on is DISGRACEFUL!” Taupau wrote.
Understandable for our non-Pasifika community attempting to properly announce our names, but to disrespect and make a mockery of former/current Pasifika players in the NRL like how you carried on is DISGRACEFUL! My grandfather would be tossing in his grave in anger!🤬@Erin_Molan https://t.co/CTMuzHEatl— Martin Taupau (@MartyKapow) June 5, 2020
“My grandfather would be tossing in his grave in anger!”
Aloiai said what most people don't see is the good work Molan does with the Pacific Island community and stressed that she doesn't have a racist bone in her body.
“I stand with Erin. She should not feel afraid to leave the house because of threats. She should not have to hide away at home with her daughter. She should not have to look over her shoulder. She does so much for the Pacific Island community, for its players. Racist and Erin is not something that should be talked about [in the same sentence].
"I would not be comfortable if I didn’t speak out when there was an injustice done against a good person. She deserves support and she deserves an apology from anyone who has treated her terribly.”