The rugby league community is celebrating the career of Ray Warren after confirmation the veteran commentator has called his last game of footy.
Regarded as the 'voice of rugby league in Australia', the 78-year-old has finally decided to hang up the microphone, having previously come close to retiring in the past.
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It's understood Warren had been in recent discussions with Nine sports boss Brent Williams, and made the decision over the last week.
However, Nine did not confirm the legendary caller's retirement until Wednesday.
“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 hadn't commentated for Nine since last year's grand final but after weeks of discussions with the network, said he was leaving the job with no regrets.
"I had nothing to prove," Warren told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"It's been easy leaving the commentary box, but each time I came back I knew I was getting closer to making a making a fool of myself.
"After I called last year's grand final between Penrith and Souths, I walked out feeling like I'd done a good job. I knew after that game it was my last."
With Warren's retirement confirmed, it is expected Nine will turn to Mat Thompson to lead the call for next week's Origin opener in Sydney.
'Rabs' as he was affectionately known to Australians - enjoyed an on-air career that spanned more than five decades.
He was inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame in 2019.
— NRL (@NRL) August 14, 2019
NRL fans celebrate Ray Warren's legendary career
“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.”
The bombshell news comes one week before the State of Origin series, with Warren having called 99 matches in the interstate series.
Warren has also called 45 rugby league grand finals, three Melbourne Cups and Australian Olympic swimming races in a decorated career.
Understandably, fans have been left gutted by news of the iconic commentator's retirement.
What a legacy of incredible commentating Ray Warren leaves behind.
Sad to see him stuck on 99 Origins but he clearly sounds very content with his decision.
Still think a career in music is an option. https://t.co/hBRuocniM7
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) June 1, 2022
— Andrew Voss (@AndrewVossy) June 1, 2022
Ray Warren's final game was the 2021 NRL Grand Final between Penrith and Souths. The Greatest. #PantherPride
— Nathan Taylor (@NateTaylor87) June 1, 2022
— Scott Phillips (@TMFScottP) June 1, 2022
END OF AN ERA: @SMHsport reporting legendary @wwos rugby league caller, Ray Warren, has hung up the microphone effective immediately. 'Rabs' was the doyen of league callers, in my eyes (ears), only rivalled in AUS sports calling by Richie Benaud | @9NewsQueensland @NRLonNine
— Michael Atkinson (@kinson88) June 1, 2022
Greatest there was. Greatest there ever will be https://t.co/OqM2WvcFUs
— Dan Ginnane (@DanGinnane) June 1, 2022
You had us on the edge of our seats and jumping in front of the telly.
Your commentary was thoughtful, exhilarating and cheeky.
The way you treated people along the way is your finest achievement.
Thanks for the memories. #WeLoveRabs
— Ben Fordham (@BenFordham) June 1, 2022
Ray Warren’s retirement announcement comes as no surprise but we were all wondering when the day would finally come. Such a legend of broadcasting... from the most humble beginnings in his beloved #Riverina. Well played, Rabbits. You inspired me & entertained millions! 👏🏻
— Jason ‘Costo’ Costigan ❤️🏉📺 (@CostoJason) June 1, 2022
Even though I haven't met him, I want to say a massive Congratulations to one of my sports commentary heroes in Ray Warren on a wonderful, decorated career! He is one of Australia's greatest-ever sports commentators, and will always be 'The Voice of Rugby League'! #ThankYouRabs
— Ryan Eckford (@RyanEckford) June 1, 2022
— Andrew Jaffrey 💉💉💉 (@AndrewJaffrey) June 1, 2022
— James Cheeseman (@shaggy84329) June 1, 2022
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