Infotainment Factory: Legends unite for touching tribute to Rabs

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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Legends unite for touching tribute to Rabs


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Peter Sterling goes searching for the best way to describe his 28 years commentating on rugby league matches alongside legendary caller Ray Warren.

"I can't lie, he's quirky," Sterling says in an exclusive interview with Wide World of Sports.

When Warren, the man lovingly known as 'Rabs' is inducted into rugby league's Hall of Fame tonight, few people will have a deeper appreciation for the honour than Sterling.

Warren into NRL Hall of Fame

The two have become great friends over the years, with Sterling as grateful for their time together out of the box as he is for all the time they've spent together calling some of league's most iconic moments.

Their close enough to be comfortable taking pot shots at each other, and while honouring Warren's contribution, Sterling took the opportunity to explain the doyen of commentary's many idiosyncrasies, the first of which cost him a few bumps and bruises in their early years together in a broadcast box.

"It took me a couple of years to duck and weave because when he uses the binoculars he kind of holds his elbows straight out," Sterling said.

"So when I saw him reaching for them, he would reach, I would duck, the binoculars would go up and they would just miss me, but that took a while to get that routine right because I was copping plenty on the side of the head on the point of the elbow. I learnt quickly."

Sterling had plenty of chances to get his own back, particularly when it came to plane travel.

Ray Warren's binoculars have been an occupational hazard for Peter Sterling.

Warren is famous for his fear for flying, which even cost him his job at Channel Ten when he refused to travel for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

Speaking to Wide World of Sports earlier this week, Warren admitted that call was the biggest regret of his career, so he had spent much of his time at Nine talking himself onto planes for rugby league games outside his home city of Sydney.

On one such occasion he was seated across the aisle from Sterling when a chance for a prank to be played presented itself.

"At one stage there he had a Gameboy he used to play to take his mind off the flight, so he wasn't thinking about that he was just concentrating on building this wall on the Gameboy," Sterling revealed.

"So we were flying to the Gold Coast one time, which is only a one-hour flight, and he put his Gameboy down on his seat, I was sitting on the other side of the aisle and he's reached up to put his belongings in the locker above his seat and while he's doing that I've grabbed the Gameboy and taken the batteries out and I was planning on giving them back to him about an hour later.

"The plane starts to take off and he tries to play the Gameboy and he starts hitting it on the side thinking there was something wrong with it and perspiration started to bead down his forehead and after 10 minutes I just had to hand them back to him and say 'mate, I just can't do that to you'."

While Warren's idiosyncrasies have made him the butt of jokes among his commentary colleagues at Nine, the lighter side of those relationships have been formed out of a deep respect.

When it was announced via internal email at Nine this week that Warren would be inducted into the Hall of Fame the response was overwhelming, with many of the biggest names in the game sharing their thoughts on his career and his legacy.

Here's a sample of what Warren's legendary colleagues think of him:

PETER STERLING

"I guess the greatest thing, and it's not just for myself, but for at least the last three decades I think all the great moments in our game, the greatest moments, I hear his voice around them. I can see Mark Coyne scoring in '94 and Darren Albert race away to win Newcastle's first premiership and then the 10 years of domination for the Maroons through to Johnathan Thurston winning the grand final for the Cowboys and in 2016 the porch light for Harold Holt finally being turned off, all of those great moments in the game have been voiced by Rabs so I associate him with the greatest highlights our game has produced.

"And I guess the thing about Rabs is somehow he just knows, he's always known, the right amount of excitement, emotion, the joy, the exhilaration, all of those things surrounding an event, he's always known the right amount to produce."

ANDREW JOHNS

"Yes Rabs congratulations. Absolute legend."

Johns again, for a Wide World of Sports video:

"He's the voice of rugby league. It won't be the same when he retires. Just an absolute legend. Loved working with him, it used to be so cool to hear him call your name.

"I think the game at Canberra when Brett Mullins caught fire that yeart and he does the double kick, how good is that? Rabs, the best caller and without doubt the best hypochondriac."

Freddy & The Eighth: Round 22

BRAD FITTLER

"Only a matter of time Rabs. You tha man. Love ya!"

Fittler again, for a Wide World of Sports video:

"You know the thing about Ray? In all the time I've listened to him he's never criticised anyone. He's never critical of anyone. It's very hard to refrain from criticising people when you're sitting there and there could be a bludger of a game, he never ever criticises anyone and he says less. He's got that art of being able to say less and it being more. To have the ability not to criticise anyone ever, pretty incredible.

"He called the try I scored against the Dragons. I always see that try because of the Anzac game and I just leave it up to Rabs. I remember being there and it was great when I was there and it's still great now."

Phil Gould has been a long-time colleague of Ray Warren.

PHIL GOULD:
"The best of all time. His name now forever etched in history. Thoroughly deserved.
We all owe him a great debt of gratitude, not only for the magic he brings to rugby league and the Channel 9 product, but what he has done personally, for each and every one of us. Well done Rabbits!!! And thank you."

DARREN LOCKYER

"Sir Don of the commentary box.....congrats Rabs."

BILLY SLATER

"Congratulations Ray. Most important man in the game. Thoroughly deserved."

Peter Sterling goes searching for the best way to describe his 28 years commentating on rugby league matches alongside legendary caller Ray Warren.

"I can't lie, he's quirky," Sterling says in an exclusive interview with Wide World of Sports.

When Warren, the man lovingly known as 'Rabs' is inducted into rugby league's Hall of Fame tonight, few people will have a deeper appreciation for the honour than Sterling.

Warren into NRL Hall of Fame

The two have become great friends over the years, with Sterling as grateful for their time together out of the box as he is for all the time they've spent together calling some of league's most iconic moments.

Their close enough to be comfortable taking pot shots at each other, and while honouring Warren's contribution, Sterling took the opportunity to explain the doyen of commentary's many idiosyncrasies, the first of which cost him a few bumps and bruises in their early years together in a broadcast box.

"It took me a couple of years to duck and weave because when he uses the binoculars he kind of holds his elbows straight out," Sterling said.

"So when I saw him reaching for them, he would reach, I would duck, the binoculars would go up and they would just miss me, but that took a while to get that routine right because I was copping plenty on the side of the head on the point of the elbow. I learnt quickly."

Sterling had plenty of chances to get his own back, particularly when it came to plane travel.

Ray Warren's binoculars have been an occupational hazard for Peter Sterling.

Warren is famous for his fear for flying, which even cost him his job at Channel Ten when he refused to travel for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

Speaking to Wide World of Sports earlier this week, Warren admitted that call was the biggest regret of his career, so he had spent much of his time at Nine talking himself onto planes for rugby league games outside his home city of Sydney.

On one such occasion he was seated across the aisle from Sterling when a chance for a prank to be played presented itself.

"At one stage there he had a Gameboy he used to play to take his mind off the flight, so he wasn't thinking about that he was just concentrating on building this wall on the Gameboy," Sterling revealed.

"So we were flying to the Gold Coast one time, which is only a one-hour flight, and he put his Gameboy down on his seat, I was sitting on the other side of the aisle and he's reached up to put his belongings in the locker above his seat and while he's doing that I've grabbed the Gameboy and taken the batteries out and I was planning on giving them back to him about an hour later.

"The plane starts to take off and he tries to play the Gameboy and he starts hitting it on the side thinking there was something wrong with it and perspiration started to bead down his forehead and after 10 minutes I just had to hand them back to him and say 'mate, I just can't do that to you'."

While Warren's idiosyncrasies have made him the butt of jokes among his commentary colleagues at Nine, the lighter side of those relationships have been formed out of a deep respect.

When it was announced via internal email at Nine this week that Warren would be inducted into the Hall of Fame the response was overwhelming, with many of the biggest names in the game sharing their thoughts on his career and his legacy.

Here's a sample of what Warren's legendary colleagues think of him:

PETER STERLING

"I guess the greatest thing, and it's not just for myself, but for at least the last three decades I think all the great moments in our game, the greatest moments, I hear his voice around them. I can see Mark Coyne scoring in '94 and Darren Albert race away to win Newcastle's first premiership and then the 10 years of domination for the Maroons through to Johnathan Thurston winning the grand final for the Cowboys and in 2016 the porch light for Harold Holt finally being turned off, all of those great moments in the game have been voiced by Rabs so I associate him with the greatest highlights our game has produced.

"And I guess the thing about Rabs is somehow he just knows, he's always known, the right amount of excitement, emotion, the joy, the exhilaration, all of those things surrounding an event, he's always known the right amount to produce."

ANDREW JOHNS

"Yes Rabs congratulations. Absolute legend."

Johns again, for a Wide World of Sports video:

"He's the voice of rugby league. It won't be the same when he retires. Just an absolute legend. Loved working with him, it used to be so cool to hear him call your name.

"I think the game at Canberra when Brett Mullins caught fire that yeart and he does the double kick, how good is that? Rabs, the best caller and without doubt the best hypochondriac."

Freddy & The Eighth: Round 22

BRAD FITTLER

"Only a matter of time Rabs. You tha man. Love ya!"

Fittler again, for a Wide World of Sports video:

"You know the thing about Ray? In all the time I've listened to him he's never criticised anyone. He's never critical of anyone. It's very hard to refrain from criticising people when you're sitting there and there could be a bludger of a game, he never ever criticises anyone and he says less. He's got that art of being able to say less and it being more. To have the ability not to criticise anyone ever, pretty incredible.

"He called the try I scored against the Dragons. I always see that try because of the Anzac game and I just leave it up to Rabs. I remember being there and it was great when I was there and it's still great now."

Phil Gould has been a long-time colleague of Ray Warren.

PHIL GOULD:
"The best of all time. His name now forever etched in history. Thoroughly deserved.
We all owe him a great debt of gratitude, not only for the magic he brings to rugby league and the Channel 9 product, but what he has done personally, for each and every one of us. Well done Rabbits!!! And thank you."

DARREN LOCKYER

"Sir Don of the commentary box.....congrats Rabs."

BILLY SLATER

"Congratulations Ray. Most important man in the game. Thoroughly deserved."

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