NRL fans have been left saddened after Wally Lewis announced he's stepping down from his role as Nine News sports presenter due to health reasons. The rugby league legend has been working with Channel 9 for 24 years, but has decided to step away from the sports desk this year.
According to TV Blackbox, Lewis will step away from his role on Nine News 'effective immediately'. The 63-year-old "will not return to the studio in 2023, but will remain with the network”.
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The Queensland legend said his health "made decisions for me in the past so it’s my turn to make decisions for my health." He added: "While I’ll take more of a back seat role in the studio, 9 News viewers can still expect me to keep them up-to-date on the highs and lows of local and international sport, and of course share my weekly NRL tips.”
It remains unclear whether Lewis will still be commentating games for Channel 9 in 2023. He has been a constant during State of Origin broadcasts for the last few years.
“Beyond 9 News, I’ll continue to call WWOS home, and there are some special Nine programs in the pipeline that I’m also ready to tackle alongside my ongoing involvement with the QRL and FOGS (Former Origin Greats),” he said. “It’s safe to say that no two weeks in my calendar will look the same this year, which is what I’m looking forward to most.”
Amanda Paterson, the Director of News at Nine in Queensland, paid tribute to Lewis. She said in a statement: “The King is well and truly here to stay. He continues to live up to being a legend on and off the field, and whether he is on the news desk or not, viewers will still get to welcome the Wally they know and love into their living rooms.
“Wally is such an integral member of our newsroom and we are privileged to have him on our team. His health is and has always been our priority, so we are proud of him for making the call to put himself first.”
NRL fans react to news about Wally Lewis
In 2020, Lewis opened up about a devastating epilepsy diagnosis that saw him collapse while on air with Nine News. After keeping the condition a secret for 20 years, he was forced to undergo brain surgery in 2007.
“I had suicidal thoughts and found myself crying uncontrollably, for no reason,” he wrote in ‘My Life’. “Another time I walked down to the pontoon on the canal at the back of the house and considered jumping in. The thought was actually there that day."
Lewis played 301 first grade games in an illustrious career with the Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast. He also played 38 State of Origin games for Queensland and 34 Test matches for Australia.
The 63-year-old captained Queensland 30 times at Origin level and won a record eight man of the match awards. He was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame in 1999 and is a member of rugby league’s ‘Immortals’ club.
The 9 network seem to look after their people.
Nice to see
— Snoopworld (@Ozworld71625525) January 23, 2023
— Robert McKnight (@rob_mcknight) January 23, 2023
The King has earned his rest 🙏🏻
— SHOOTER (@white_man_good) January 23, 2023
Pretty big news from Queensland, with the announcement Wally Lewis is stepping down as Sports presenter on Nine's 6pm bulletin up there after 25 years or so.
A successor will be announced in coming weeks, while Lewis will remain at Nine in other roles.https://t.co/ccIGaG860a
— SydneyCityTV (@SydneyCityTV) January 24, 2023
Very interesting move, as we approach Pat Welsh's final bulletin next weekend.
Could Patterson potentially let Wally Lewis (a regular eighties story subject for Pat Welsh) appear on-air on 7, for Patty's final night on Mt Coot-tha? https://t.co/6JN2V7TJRD
— Veritas on KW (@Veritas_KW) January 23, 2023
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