Tommy Bowe has admitted his Ireland AM job has been “challenging”, as he’s “not the best” when it comes to current affairs.
Following his retirement from rugby in 2018, the sports star landed a presenting role on the popular programme in August 2020.
A few months into his new job, Tommy has revealed he’s “really enjoying it”, but it hasn’t been plain sailing.
Speaking to Goss.ie to mark the launch of Virgin Media’s Spring 2021 schedule, the Monaghan native said: “It’s brilliant, I’m really enjoying it.”
However, Tommy explained: “It’s been a challenge because obviously coming from rugby between playing and doing the presenting with EIR Sport, you know, that’s talking about something I love and I know rugby inside out…”
“And then all of a sudden I’m thrown in to talk about… well yesterday it was all about the Covid cases in Ireland being the worst in the world, and talking about vaccines and talking about whether special needs children should be going back to school.”
“So this is stuff that I really have to study up on, and try to not make myself look like a total fool.”
“And then you can go from that to talking about such random crazy stuff. But its brilliant, it’s really good fun.”
The former Irish rugby star admitted his new role is completely out of his “comfort zone”, but he’s focused on “being himself” on camera.
Tommy confessed: “It’s completely out of my comfort zone, absolutely! But you know what, I think the key to it, and what I was told from the very start is to be yourself doing it…”
“As soon as you try to put on a different persona you’ll get caught out! I’m trying to just be myself and look I’ll put my hands up, I’m not the best at current affairs, but I’m trying, I’m trying!”
“I’m trying to get better, I’m trying to learn and I’m studying up big time – reading the front page of the newspaper.”
“I used to always read the back page when I was a rugby player, whereas now I don’t even get to the sports pages anymore, its all about reading about what’s going on in the world.”
Despite being out of his comfort zone, Tommy said the Ireland AM team “feels like a little family”.
He said: “I heard this before going in, that because your getting up so early in the morning, we’re the first people that we see each morning. It really feels like a little family and it’s a bit of fun, it’s a bit of craic.”
“But you also have those serious moments too, so it’s a nice chemical family dynamic.”
The Monaghan native also spoke about Ireland AM’s new pod system, which means he will only host the show with Karen Koster on alternate days.
Tommy explained: “It makes sense with the cases being out of control at the minute. If one of us was to become a close contact or even get coronavirus it would knock the whole show out so for us to be split up like this makes complete sense.”
On the days they’re not in studio, Tommy and Karen will check in with the show’s other hosts over Skype – which will be a challenge.
The 36-year-old explained: “Myself and Karen were in this morning on Skype and poor Karen, she had the three kids hanging off her…”
“But I think people seeing that, they know that this is the reality, that this is what people that are having to work from home are having to do at the minute, trying to multitask and home-school and trying to get your own deadlines in work done.”
“It’s borderline impossible but I think everybody just has to make the most of it! It’s difficult times but we’ve just got to keep the head down and keep going.”
Tommy also revealed to Goss.ie that he has an hour and forty-five minute commute to the Virgin Media studios in Dublin, as he still lives in Belfast.
“Obviously when I was playing rugby with Ulster I had to live in Belfast. So I’m having to do quite a bit of travelling. It works out ok, its not too bad. I mean it is a bit mad. It takes me an hour and forty-five minutes,” he said.
“It’s great because it just means I spend the whole time on the phone, certainly on the way back home and get a load of work done, which is great and means as well that whenever I actually get home I can spend time with the family and maybe have a nap.”
Tommy is married to former beauty queen Lucy Whitehouse, and the couple share two children together – 3-year-old Emma and 10-month-old Jamie.