Legendary rugby league commentator Ray Warren has called time on a spectacular career calling games.
The 78-year-old announced the news a week before the first State of Origin game of 2022.
He has called 99 Origin games but won’t call another. He also called 45 NRL grand finals, with last year’s decider between Penrith and South Sydney his last event.
“After talking with my family and calling rugby league and other sports for 55 years, I have decided my time in the commentary box is over. I will miss calling immensely but I think it’s time to move on with my 80th birthday only 12 months away,” Warren said.
“I really want to thank everybody so much. All my workmates at Channel 9, Channel 10, Radio 2GB and where I got my start at Radio 2LF in Young, who each gave a youngster from Junee a chance to turn his dreams, into reality. Hopefully my story will carry some inspiration into the lives of other young kids from the country.
“To the game, the NRL and the players, for giving me the privilege of calling such a great product. And finally the viewers, for allowing me to share a little time in your living rooms since the early 1970s.”
Warren – hailing from Junee in NSW’s Riverina – began his radio career at Radio 2LF in Young, alongside fellow legend Ken Sutcliffe in 1966.
He transitioned into television in 1974 with Channel 10, then joined Nine in 1988.
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He called the Rugby League World Cup that year, kickstarting one of the great careers in the game. He also called three Melbourne Cups, and a number of major swimming events including Olympic Games.
Warren was inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame in 2019, and has a bronze statue in his home town of Junee.
In 2014 he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM).
“Ray Warren has been the captain of our commentary team here at Channel 9 for over 30 years,” Phil Gould said.
“He has been a leader, a mentor, a friend, a confidant, to all of us. Every one of us who had the privilege to work with this great mate is deeply indebted to him for the direction, care and time he afforded us all.
“The greatest moments in our sport, the greatest moments in individual player careers, the greatest moments in the history of our clubs, have been captured through the eyes, the emotion, and of course the unmistakable voice that is Ray Warren.
“He will be remembered as the greatest of all time.”
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Paul Gallen echoed those thoughts.
“Growing up, he was such a big part of why I loved rugby league, and to then have him call my games, and to be involved as a colleague was unbelievable and a great honour,” Gallen told Wide World of Sports.
Ray Warren’s famous ‘miracle’ try call
As did rugby league legend Darren Lockyer.
“As a player you made us look better with your talent behind the microphone,” Lockyer told Wide World of Sports.
“The highlight reels for so many players are lucky to have played in your era. The Sir Donald Bradman of the commentary box, and a champion bloke to go with it
“Thank you for everything you have done for the game Rabs. There won’t be another like you.”
Nine CEO Mike Sneesby paid tribute to the legend.
“The great Ray Warren is synonymous with Nine and rugby league for fans, players and most of all everyone here at the Wide World of Sports,” Sneesby said.
“We are so pleased that he will remain an integral part of the team and thank him for his five decades of calling live sport.
“We look forward to his insights, memories, and character in our broadcast next week for Origin I and beyond. He brought the game to life for generations of fans in their loungerooms. You are the voice of rugby league, Rabs. Thank you.”
Nine director of sport Brent Williams said; “From the Olympics, to Melbourne Cups, the greatest NRL moments and everything in between, Ray Warren has been the voice of sport for generations of Australians. His passion and enthusiasm for his craft is infectious and positively impacts those who are lucky to work alongside him.
“Quite simply he raises others and elevates broadcasts to higher levels. While the incredible commentary chapter of his career comes to a close, we are thrilled that Rabs will continue to play an integral role in our Wide World of Sports productions, including the upcoming State of Origin series.”
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys paid tribute to the voice of the game.
“Only one word comes to my mind and that is legend, I think it says it all. Rugby league today is much the poorer with his retirement,” V’landys said.
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