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Legendary NRL commentator Ray Warren forced to call the State of Origin decider from Sydney

Legendary NRL commentator Ray ‘Rabbits’ Warren will be forced to call tonight’s State of Origin decider in Queensland from a Sydney TV studio.

The 77-year-old was not granted a Covid-19 travel exemption by the Queensland government to enter the Sunshine State.

Fellow Channel Nine commentator Andrew Johns, along with the production crew, were permitted to cross the border for tonight’s highly anticipated clash at Brisbane‘s Suncorp Stadium.

Legendary rugby league commentator Ray Warren (pictured with wife Cher in 2019)  will be forced to call tonight's State of Origin decider in Queensland from a Sydney TV studio

Legendary rugby league commentator Ray Warren (pictured with wife Cher in 2019)  will be forced to call tonight’s State of Origin decider in Queensland from a Sydney TV studio

Johns and the rest of the team left on a charter flight this morning, while Warren stayed behind.

It will be the first time a top-flight rugby league match has been called from a remote location in its 54-year history.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Warren had a practice run calling a replay of State of Origin II off a television monitor on Monday at the Nine’s Willoughby studios.

‘I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable. I’ve never called off the tube in my 54 years,’ Warren said.

‘But in the climate that we’re in, there are some things you have to do – some things people have to do. I think I can get through it okay.’

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Government would not allow some of the Channel Nine team from the greater Sydney region to avoid a 14-day quarantine period.

Only about a dozen ‘key technical personnel’ were given the green light to enter the state because their positions could not be filled in Brisbane, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Warren was not granted a Covid-19 travel exemption by the Queensland government to enter the Sunshine State

Channel Nine did have the option of replacing Warren in tonight’s contest with a local Queensland commentator but the network decided to keep the veteran caller on the broadcast – which is expected to attract about three million viewers.

The entire Channel Nine team were escorted from their plane at Brisbane Airport directly to Suncorp Stadium and are banned from leaving the venue until the match is over.

Then they will be escorted directly back to the airport and flown to Sydney.

A crowd of about 52,000 is expected for tonight’s game – the largest sporting crowd anywhere in the world since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Leading into Wednesday night’s third State of Origin, the series remains on a knife’s edge as the NSW Blues chase their third consecutive series win. 

The maroons shocked NSW in the opening match at Adelaide Oval 18-4, after being labelled by prominent sports reporters and former Blues Captain Paul Gallon as ‘the worst Queensland side in history’.

Leading into Wednesday night's third State of Origin, the series remains on a knife's edge as the NSW Blues chase their third consecutive series win

Leading into Wednesday night’s third State of Origin, the series remains on a knife’s edge as the NSW Blues chase their third consecutive series win

A crowd of about 52,000 is expected for tonight's game - the largest sporting crowd anywhere in the world since the coronavirus pandemic took hold

A crowd of about 52,000 is expected for tonight’s game – the largest sporting crowd anywhere in the world since the coronavirus pandemic took hold

When game two rolled around, coach Brad Fitler made a key change moving in-form interchange player Cody Walker to five-eight and dropping Rooster’s half Luke Keary from the 17-man squad.

The shake-up paid dividends and the Blues steam-rolled the maroons in Sydney 34-10.

But although it was a comprehensive victory, the loss of Queensland five-eighth Cameron Munster in the opening minutes proved a major turning point in the contest.

The premiership-winning Melbourne Storm player was pivotal in the first match of the series but suffered a head knock in game two.

After being given the all-clear by doctors earlier this week, Munster is now set to take the field in the decider. 

The State of Origin is normally played in the mid-way through the season beginning in May, but his year the coronavirus pandemic saw the iconic sporting fixtures moved to the end of the regular season for the first time in the code’s history. 

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