Ray Warren has commentated his last game of rugby league, with the veteran broadcaster announcing his immediate retirement from calling football.
The 78-year-old will not commentate this year’s State of Origin series, ending months of speculation about his future.
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Warren signed a five-year contract with Channel 9 in 2017 — extending through to the end of the 2022 season — but he has not appeared in the commentary box this season.
“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,” Warren said in a statement.
“I will miss calling immensely but I think it’s time to move on with my 80th birthday only 12 months away.
“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 will continue to work at Wide World of Sports.
Known as the “voice of rugby league”, Warren has called 99 State of Origin matches, 45 grand finals and three Melbourne Cups, establishing himself as one of Australia’s greatest broadcasters over a decorated commentary career spanning 55 years.
He was inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame back in 2019.
“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,” Nine Chief Executive Officer Mike Sneesby said in a statement.
“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.”
Warren reportedly met with Nine sports director Brent Williams last week to discuss his future, but no firm decision was made.
“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,” Williams said in a statement.
“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.”
Mat Thompson is expected to take over play-by-play calling duties for Origin I, which gets underway next Wednesday at 8.10pm AEST.