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Brooks doing what she loves

04 Jul 20, 2:38PM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

Sky Sports journalist Jenna Brooks has become a household name in recent years, as she regularly appears on our TV screens to give news updates and interviews from our favourite rugby league players and coaches.

Brooks was an athlete herself growing up, which eventually lead her down the path of the sports journalism industry.

She has worked in multiple countries for many networks, including the three largest Rugby League broadcasters in the world.

“Sport has always played a massive part in my life. I’ve always been really sporty. You name the sport I played it. As I got older I started to focus more on swimming (50m butterfly and 50m backstroke) and track (400m). When I was growing up my dream was to represent Australia at the Olympics in either (haha) but I was never good enough!,” Brooks explains to Everything Rugby League.

“I thought the next best thing I could do was cover sports, so I went to uni, majored in journalism and I think I finished my degree on a Friday and on the following Monday I was working as a production secretary at Nine’s Wide World of Sports. From there I got a job as a Freelance reporter at Fox Sports News, before becoming the sports reporter at SBS.”

“In 2010 I moved to San Francisco and got a job as a freelance reporter for Comcast SportsNet. After almost three years in SF my husband and I relocated to London and that is how Sky Sports came into it.”

Brooks is a huge Rugby League fan so when she realised reporting on the Super League for Sky Sports was a possibility, she did everything in her power to secure a role on the team.

“I love Rugby League! My father played, my grandfather played (I really had no choice growing up haha!). I spent most weekend’s watching the game.”

“After being in the US covering mainly American sports, I was thrilled to be back in a country who played league professionally. So once I got the job working for Sky Sports News, I reached out to the Super League department and expressed my desire to cover the game for them.”

“I actually remember sitting in a meeting with the great Stevo, and waiting for it to be over to approach him and make an introduction. From there Stevo introduced me to Neville Smith (who was head of Rugby League at Sky Sports at the time) I basically annoyed him into giving me a job haha! E-mailing every day, I even turned up to some of the games to approach him in person. (the squeaky wheel gets the oil – right!?) he eventually gave in and gave me a shot producing and presenting the weekly news on a Thursday night, from there it grew and when June Fairhurst, who is the senior producer now took over she brought me in as the full-time reporter and I haven’t looked back since.”

Since working in the Super League department for Sky Sports, Brooks has had some memorable interviews and moments throughout the years.

Including one interview that actually occurred earlier this year in March.

“I remember my first Magic Weekend which was at the Etihad. I think I managed about 50 interviews on the Saturday with players, former players, coaches, pundits, Club CEOs …. pretty much everyone I could get my hands on.

“In terms of daunting interviews, I would have to say that prize goes to Adam Pearson (Hull FC Chairman) and it was this year, in fact the last Thursday before COVID-19 forced the game to be postponed. Hull lost 38-4 at home to Warrington. Yep Lee Radford’s last game for the Black and Whites.

“I remember doing post match interviews with the players followed by Steve Price. There was an unusually long wait for Radford to come out. After about 5 mins there was no sign of him. I was about to walk down the tunnel to get him myself and out comes Pearson. I was like ‘hmmmm this is strange, what’s going to happen here.’ While I knew something was up, I couldn’t have imagined what was about to unfold.”

“My first question was something like ‘Adam, how come your here to do this interview, where’s Lee? I certainly wasn’t expecting the response I got.”

“I don’t think anything like that had ever happened before – in any sport! I was just trying to think on my feet. In these situations follow up questions are so important and trying to keep the interview going as long as possible! I kept thinking, ‘Okay If I was a Hull supporter at home watching this what would I want to know?’ And just went from there.”

Jenna Brooks at Wigan Women's launch

The journalism industry can be quite difficult to work in at times, with plenty of high pressure situations and a great competitive culture between outlets and networks, however throughout the years Brooks has been blessed to have had multiple mentors help her get to where she is today.

“I have met and worked with a number of people who have helped me/mentored me. From my very first job at NINE, Senior sports reporter Tim Sheridan took me under his wing and really helped me. He would take me out on shoots with him and have me write my own report and give me feedback. I learned a lot from Tim, and I think he is one of the best in the business.”

“Commentator Andrew Voss was another one who looked out for me at NINE. He has always kept in touch and followed my career offering me support. He joined us recently on The Golden Point vodcast, it was great to catch up!”

“From my time in the States – I really liked what Erin Andrews was doing – she mainly covers the NFL on Fox Sports, but she is just so natural.

“As I mentioned earlier Stevo played a massive part in my career here in the UK. He introduced me to the people I needed to meet. He still contacts me with tips and comments. I love him!”

As is evident from the names mentioned above, Brooks has worked with some of the best and is one of the best professional Rugby League interviewers applying her trade today.

Brooks believes the best way to conduct an interview with a player is to simply keep it short and sweet.

“An obvious one but the most important …. LISTEN!

“Keep questions short, the audience don’t want to hear from the reporter they want to hear from the talent.

“Be yourself. Be natural. Let people at home see a little bit of personality.

“Have fun and smile because it really is the best job in the world!”

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