“When I walked away after that Origin, I thought that was it,” Warren told the Herald. “Then I thought, ‘Hang on, I’ve done something I’d never do before: calling off the tube’.
“I’d never contemplated not being at the event, in times gone by, but that was the reality of calling sport last year. I was ready to pull the pin on everything but when I thought about it that wasn’t the type of season I’d like to go out on.”
Warren is an icon of sports broadcasting.
He called his first game of rugby league in 1966 – a Maher Cup match between West Wyalong and Barmedman – and since then has become the booming voice of rugby league.
He was inducted into the ARL Hall of Fame in 2019.
Like any champion player, Warren has always said he never wants to go a season too long and trusts those around him to tell him when it’s time to retire.
Nine has slowly cut back his workload in recent years but still wants him for the headline matches, such as finals and State of Origin.
That was never more evident than late last year when Nine was desperate to get him into Queensland for the deciding Origin at Suncorp Stadium.
A notoriously nervous flyer, Warren wasn’t prepared to take a small charter flight to satisfy COVID-19 restrictions and was prepared to drive to Brisbane.
Then Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk closed the border and Warren was forced to call the match in the studio.
It was the first match since 1981 when he hasn’t required the iconic binoculars he bought from a pawn shop in Parramatta when he was also calling the Melbourne Cup for Channel Ten.
“Those binoculars are shedding their skin like a snake sheds its skin; that’s how old they are,” Warren quipped. “I can assure you I didn’t need them when I was calling off the tube. That’s when I will have to give it away.”
Sports news, results and expert commentary delivered straight to your inbox each weekday. Sign up here.
Andrew Webster is Chief Sports Writer of The Sydney Morning Herald.