'End is near': Is this a clear sign Ray Warren will call it quits?

·3-min read
Ray Warren, pictured here in 2017 before game one of the State Of Origin series.
Ray Warren in 2017 before game one of the State Of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Peter Sterling's retirement from Channel 9 has made plenty of headlines and will be a big deal on grand final day.

But the biggest exit from the broadcast ranks is one you are most likely to hear way after the event - if it happens at all.

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Ray Warren – the voice of rugby league - has been at the caper for over half a century, but the end is very near.

The last few seasons have been very much a year-by-year proposition.

After calling last year's Melbourne-Penrith decider, the great 'Rabbits' indicated he was close to pulling the pin.

"It might have been my last grand final, I honestly don’t know," he said at the time.

"If I’d announced it before the game I wouldn’t have got through it. I get very emotional when I think about it.

"It’s hard to imagine what it would be like without broadcasting sport."

Warren ended up going around in 2021 but has only been used sparingly.

He has been forced to call much of this and last season from the studio due to Covid restrictions.

It's a practice he has had to adapt to but doesn't like, preferring to feed off the atmosphere and movement at the stadium.

But his greatest fear has been to go on a year too long and start losing his way during a call.

That time hasn’t quite come yet – if we ignore the rambling conversations with Gus for a minute - but the departure of his good mate Sterlo may convince Ray to hang up the microphone for good.

Ray Warren, pictured here with wife Cher at the NRL Hall of Fame ceremony in 2019.
Ray Warren with wife Cher at the NRL Hall of Fame ceremony in 2019. (Photo by James Gourley/Getty Images)

They have been side by side for the best part of 30 years and the loss of the former Parra half leaves a big hole.

At 78, 'Rabs' may decide it's time to spend more time with family and his mates at his hideaway bowls club in Sydney's Hills district.

If Sunday night is to be his last game, Warren and Nine are saying nothing.

"No-one here has been told a thing. It's business as usual as far as we know," a station insider told us.

"Rabs could easily finish on Sunday without a word or kick on for another year."

A professional to the end, Rabbits wouldn’t want his departure to overshadow the main show.

And, as his says, he wouldn't want emotions to get the better of him. Not to mention our emotions.

Rabs is all some fans have known when it comes to calling grand finals and State of Origins. You don’t know what you've got 'til it's gone – as we may be about to find out.

Tevita Pangai Junior, pictured here in action for the Penrith Panthers.
Tevita Pangai Junior will miss the NRL grand final. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

A win from a loss for Panthers

Tevita Pangai Junior's withdrawal from Penrith's grand final side is a loss wrapped inside a win.

While there's no doubt TPJ's presence would be an asset on GF night, his absence frees the way for Spencer Leniu to play.

When Pangai was drafted into the Penrith squad from Brisbane just a few weeks out from the finals, we wrote that the deal didn't sit right with some fans and could split a harmonious and winning team in two.

And we said local junior Leniu was the man most likely to make way for the newcomer, potentially robbing him of a grand final ring.

Leniu now gets his shot off the back off TPJ's withdrawal and deservedly so.

Sometimes the rugby league gods work in mysterious ways.

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