Set up for 'failure': Nine's ugly Origin spat with QLD government

Andrew Reid
·5-min read
Pictured here, Channel Nine commentators Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer.
Channel Nine's request for exemptions for its technical staff were turned down by QLD's CMO. Pic: Getty

State of Origin broadcaster Channel Nine says it's been set up for "failure" after the Queensland government denied a request for technical staff to be granted a quarantine exemption for Wednesday night's decider at Suncorp Stadium.

The Maroons will be out to stop the Blues making it three straight series victories when the sides lock horns in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

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However, it's far from the only battle Origin being waged.

Nine has hit out at the Queensland government after having "specialty worker" exemptions turned down by the state’s Chief Medical Officer CMO) Dr Jeanette Young.

The broadcaster requested exemptions for 20 members of their technical staff 10 days ago, so they don't have to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine for interstate visitors from NSW.

Seen here, veteran Channel Nine caller Phil Gould.
Veteran caller Phil Gould is part of Channel Nine's commentary team. Pic: Getty

According to Nine's Wide World of Sport, the group included producers, directors, floor managers and specialty cameramen - as well as commentators.

However, Dr Jeanette Young knocked back the request and insisted that staff would have to quarantine for 14 days unless they were part of the NRL bubble.

“They‘re welcome to come but they will have to quarantine for 14 days,” she said.

“If they are part of the (NRL) bubble they can. If they‘re not part of that, they have to apply for an exemption to be allowed into the state and then they would have to hotel quarantine.

“I would (grant an exemption) to allow them to come into the state, and I frequently have, but they would have to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.”

Nine claimed that the CMO's call had set them up for "technical failure" in what was described as the "year’s biggest match".

“If the Qld Health Minister denies @Channel9’s ‘specialty worker’ exemptions for Wednesday’s SOO decider they will be responsible for putting the broadcast of the year’s biggest match at risk of technical failure,” Channel 9 tweeted.

“The list of exemptions include directors, producers, specialty camera operators & technical experts, not just commentators.”

Nine's claims have been met with more than a degree of scepticism, considering the channel broadcasts matches from Queensland every round in the NRL.

League fans were quick to point this fact out to the broadcaster on social media.

Decision could impact legendary caller

The Queensland government's move could mean legendary commentator Ray Warren has called his last league game.

Warren called Games I and II but told the Daily Telegraph recently that he was considering calling time on a glittering 55-year stint in the commentary booth.

“I’m going to sit back, relax and enjoy Christmas and January and then make a decision,” he said.

“It might have been my last grand final the other week, I honestly don’t know.

“If I’d announced 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. It’s been five-and-a-half decades. I’ve never really treated it as a job. It’s more like a toy or a novelty. I’ve been really fortunate.”

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