High praise for Ray Warren, the voice of our game
I HAVEN'T read Ray Warren's autobiography 'The Voice', yet, but having known Rabs for just on 30 years I am already convinced it will be an entertaining and informative read, and an honest account of his time in the game.
The book is well named.
Ray Warren IS the voice of rugby league.
For fans, especially those who are unable to attend NRL games and do not have pay TV, he has been in our homes at least once a week during the footy season for the past quarter of a century.
Obviously he isn't the only good TV rugby league commentator of recent times.
Ray Hadley has been around about a while too, although I believe his style is more suited to radio than TV.
Andrew Voss is excellent, as is his Fox counterpart Warren Smith.
I have worked alongside some talented callers in Queensland - John McCoy, Peter Meares, David Fordham, Billy J Smith and Mark Braybrook.
And in earlier years the voices of John O'Reilly, Alan Marks, Rex Mossop, Frank Hyde and Queensland's George Lovejoy were synonymous with the greatest game of all.
But Warren - affectionately known as Rabs - simply has that X-factor.
Never, while watching a game he is calling, have I thought 'geez Rabs, I wish you'd shut up'.
His greatest asset as a commentator is that he allows the picture to talk.
He is also conscious of when to hit the crescendo button, something others struggle to comprehend.
His other notable quality is to bring colour to the broadcast when the game is dull.
And no one in any commentary box has a better knowledge of the rules of the game.
Rabs is rarely critical of players or referees, although that is ostensibly the role of the experts in the box with him.
But that doesn't stop other callers - primarily up and comers keen to make a name - from voicing their strong opinions.
Again the 71-year-old understands the boundaries.
What Ray Warren does for a job is not easy. I know because I once had a crack at it.
Radio commentary was different, and I'm confident I made a reasonable fist of that, but TV is another beast altogether.
I made a total hash of my trial run, so appreciate just how difficult it is to master.
Rabs is not just an outstanding footy caller, he is a terrific bloke who always stops for a yarn.
He is a gentleman, and a gentle man.
What you see is what you get.
And on The Footy Show last Thursday night young Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds succinctly defined the aura surrounding the veteran commentator.
He said that when he was a kid he hoped one day Ray Warren would call his name during a Channel 9 telecast.