Channel Nine commentator and former Parramatta Eels' legend Peter Sterling has hit back at reports his retirement was placed under a gag order.
Reports broke last week suggesting Sterling would not be continuing into 2022, despite still being contracted with the free to air home of the NRL.
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Sterling's reasoning for standing down is two-fold, with the veteran commentator breaking his silence on the issue in a Sydney Morning Herald interview today.
Sterling's reponse came after a news.com.au report that Nine executives had placed a gag order on him discussing his exit from the commentary box.
Sterling is said to have wanted a quiet exit, but with the story breaking, he responded, revealing he had discussed retiring with Nine management months ago because he wanted the opportunity to travel and spend time with his family.
“I certainly haven’t been gagged,” Sterling told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I see my retirement as old news because it’s something that I spoke to [Channel Nine] management about a couple of months ago. When you see headlines with quotation marks [saying] I’ve been gagged – now that didn’t come from me and hasn’t come from management. I haven’t spoken to anyone about doing any coaching at the Eels, which somebody reported. My relationship with Parramatta is very special to me.
“I’m retiring. I’m not looking for more work. That conjecture disappointed me. I have another year on my contract at Nine and they asked would I reconsider.
"I’m also not leaving to open up things for younger people; they can make their own way. It’s purely a personal decision that it is the right time to walk away from something that has given me absolutely everything. It’s now the right time to give everything elsewhere.”
“Turning 61, I guess I felt like I’d have maybe 15 good years physically to direct my energy into other things, mainly family and eventually the opportunity to travel. You know, I’ve never been able to see Europe in their summer because of 30 seasons of working in our winter."
It's understood Channel Nine will go for a refresh in the commentary box in the near future, with all of Darren Lockyer, Erin Molan and Wally Lewis reportedly unlikely to have their deals renewed.
Negotiations for the next TV deal are still ongoing for Channel Nine, with it understood that there is stiff competition from both Channel 7 and Channel 10.