Nine icon recalls commentary ‘brutality’

Legendary voice of the NRL, Ray Warren, has spilt the beans on the “brutality” a former commentator was forced to endure.

Ahead of the deciding State of Origin blockbuster on Wednesday night between Queensland and New South Wales at Suncorp Stadium, Warren detailed some wild times in the commentary box.

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After listening to radio host Kyle Sandilands try his hand at being an NRL commentator, Warren recalled his time alongside former calling partner Darrell Eastlake.

Eastlake’s career behind the microphone began in the 1960s and his career really took off when he joined the Nine Network and began calling State of Origin games.

But as Warren recalled, the producers had an interesting tactic to keep his colleague’s excitement levels high.

“You reminded me very much of Daryl Eastlake, I started with him in 1989 doing Origin and god love him he was a good commentator and I’ve got to rate you higher there,” Warren said on KIIS 1065’s Kyle & Jackie O Show.

“Way back then there was a producer, I fancy it might have been David Hill, who was standing behind myself and Darrell and to keep him excited he was hitting him over the head with the program.

“I thought, ‘This is cruelty’ because the producer is actually whipping Eastlake over the back of the head with the program.

“I nearly fell off my chair watching this brutality going on in front of me.”

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For the first time in Warren’s State of Origin history, the legendary commentator won’t be in attendance for tonight’s game.

Instead of sitting in the broadcast box at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Warren will instead call the contest off the television from Nine’s Sydney studios because of strict quarantine regulations about who can enter the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warren is among those who would need to quarantine for two weeks after crossing the border, so going to Queensland was not an option.

While fearful about what could potentially go wrong, he admits the decision to not allow the commentary team in the state is one he’s on board with.

“I’m computer illiterate to tell you the truth, if it breaks down the whole thing goes I suppose,” Warren told Sandilands and Jackie O.

“There wouldn’t be a delay that I know of, again I don’t know much about the technical side of it. I’ll be watching what you’re watching and trying to put a call over the top of it.

“Mind you it has been done and is being done a lot by certain commentators and outlets, it’s quite normal.

“I’m not giving up any secrets, a lot of radio and TV stations do it off the tube, the silly part about it is even though I’ve been doing this thing for about 50-odd years is I’ve never done it. It’s the mystery and uncertainty that’s got me a little worried.

“It’s nerve racking, but the fact is we got refused entry and I understand it totally, I want to make that very clear.

“There are a lot of people in greater Sydney with more reason to be allowed into Queensland than some old sports commentators.

“I appreciate the fact Queensland have a job to do, I know not everybody agrees with it, but I didn’t want any favours via an exemption in front of people that I think genuinely deserve one.”

Channel 9 felt differently about the decision to not allow several members of the production crew into Queensland, saying the call has set the Origin decider up for “technical failure”.

A dejected NSW’s James Tedesco at full time in Game 1 of the NSW v QLD State of Origin series at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide. Picture: Brett CostelloSource:News Corp Australia

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