Channel Nine’s coverage of the 2012 NRL season saw a change in commentary when Ray Hadley replaced Andrew Voss as the network’s second caller, a move that has brought plenty of conjecture.
The origin of this possibly traces back last year when Andrew Voss on the Sunday Roast quipped that the Ray Warren statue (which Hadley’s station 2GB and Channel Nine boss David Gyngell were heavily involved in putting together) looked nothing like him.
Gyngell wasn’t impressed, while Hadley led a tirade on the radio against Voss to the extent where Voss was sueing Hadley for defamation.
That case was recently settled out of court with Hadley apologising and Voss receiving a six-figure settlement.
With Hadley doing the second Friday night games, Voss has been demoted to calling the Queensland Cup.
He has also been sacked from hosting the Sunday Roast, a show in which he played a major part in making it the best rugby league show on television in my opinion.
Voss’ future at the network is clouded, and bringing a defamation suit against a Nine employer may have hurt his chances of renewing his contract at Nine.
Anyway as far as calling is concerned, who is the better commentator out of Hadley and Voss?
At the start of the year, Hadley’s commentary resembled that of someone who was calling horse racing. He was so quick he made the players out on the field look slow. He also didn’t allow his co-commentators much of a word in either, and I found that his voice was very low at times you could barely hear him.
But as the year has gone on he has slown down, and is starting to look comfortable. He is allowing the pictures to tell the story and is flowing along with it.
Another weakness Hadley has shown is his lack of research on players who are new coming into the top grade. In his defence, it is hard to combine football calling, with radio program Monday to Friday.
So is Hadley’s work on Nine quality or quantity?
Sometimes when people in general have multiple jobs, sometimes the quality suffers, thanks mainly to fatigue or not enough time. It’s probably the case with Hadley.
When I listened to Hadley 15 years ago on radio, I thought at the time, he would make it as a television commentator.
Now whether the years have gone by, or I was mistaken in my judgement, I’m not so sure. It depends how he calls the NRL next year. I give him the benefit of the doubt. Hadley’s a wonderful caller on radio, but as it showed this year, he does lack experience with television commentary.
It does show that radio and television commentary are required to have two different types of skills. On radio you have to describe where the team with ball is on the field, example “Broncos 30 metres out from their own line”. But on television you don’t need to – the pictures tell the story.
Andrew Voss has been with Channel Nine since 1994. When he first started he was raw with a high pitched voice, and sounded like a work experience kid. In the early years, he would fill in for Warren when he wasn’t available, or would occasionally be on the sidelines.
But from 2007, with Nine televising two Friday night games, it gave Andrew Voss the opportunity to be a regular caller. In the period of 2007 to 2011, Voss has improved quite a fair bit.
In some ways for Voss this year it is a shame that he is demoted down to the Queensland Cup. Voss has been demoted because of an off-the-cuff comment about a statue, not his commentating.
When Hadley has been missing calling the games, from other commitments, like the 2012 London Olympics, Voss did fill in on those few occasions and gave me the impression that Voss is a far superior commentator to Hadley.
Voss does his research on all the players, he seems genuinely excited in calling the football, and his commentary runs smoothly and compliments his co-comentators. The years of experience as a commentator for Voss is becoming more evident at this point in time.
In fact, not only is Voss a better television commentatror to Hadley, I also think he has gone past the network’s number one caller in Ray Warren. Warren these days is slowing down a bit and is making more mistakes, such as incorrectly calling the wrong players names.
Warren also appears too busy arguing with Phil Gould during the game about things that are not associated with the game. Earlier in the year in a City vs Country game, Warren and Gould were too busy talking about Tommy Lee Jones movies.
In my opinion, Voss is the best commentator on Nine’s rugby league coverage. It’s a big turnaround for, due to the fact that earlier in the year in one of my articles, I did state that perhaps he wasn’t capable to have the mantle of the number one caller.
But thanks to ego and personality, there is a chance Voss may not be at the network next year. I do think he was hoping that Channel Ten got the rights, but alas, Nine has it for five more years.
Voss may end up on either radio, or Fox sports. Than again, with an industry as small as this, Voss may be lucky to get a gig next year. That is unfortunate.
Rugby league would miss out, all because of a trivial matter over a statue!
Oh, Andrew Voss is a far superior Sunday Roast host to Tim Gilbert.