NRL boss steps in to avoid AFL embarrassment

The NRL has made the huge call to move Melbourne Storm's preliminary final to avoid a scheduling clash with the AFL grand final.

The Storm will play the winner of Saturday's Panthers vs Eels sudden death semi-final with the preliminary final originally scheduled to kick off at 7.50pm (AEST), which would have put it head-to-head with the AFL grand final on Saturday September 25.

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That will no longer be the case, with the NRL moving the game to an earlier 4pm (AEST) kick off to give the clash clear air before the AFL's decider between the Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs starts at 7.15pm (AEST).

"Rugby League is about the fans who have made it clear across the weekend that they are disappointed about having to choose between the preliminary final and the AFL grand final which is scheduled to play at a similar time,'' NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.

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"We pride ourselves on being agile and listening to our fans. It's clear that a small change to the schedule provides the best outcome for our fans in Melbourne who have been incredibly loyal throughout the pandemic."

Abdo said a daytime preliminary final was also a positive outcome for fans in Brisbane.

"This year has been unique and an afternoon preliminary final is also an opportunity to provide a more appealing timeslot for younger families in southeast Queensland to attend the game," he said.

"I would like to thank our broadcast partners for working with us to achieve an outcome that is in the best interests of our fans."

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