Melbourne Storm's preliminary final against either Penrith or Parramatta has been rescheduled so as not to clash directly with the AFL Grand Final.
The move was first reported by The Daily Telegraph's Phil 'Buzz' Rothfield and comes despite earlier suggestions from NRL boss Andrew Abdo that a reshuffle of the fixture would not come to fruition.
“We’ve got to do what’s right for our game, our teams, our fans and our stakeholders," Abdo stated just a fortnight ago.
“I’m so focused on what’s right for our sport, not theirs.”
Still, with the AFL's decider comprised of a pair of Victorian clubs in the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons, the league have decided to bring forward the clash originally slated for a 7:50pm start to a 4pm afternoon slot following complaints from the Storm.
The penultimate contest will still take place at Suncorp Stadium.
In a Monday afternoon statement, Abdo suggested that the move was made to reward fans in Melbourne rather than have them flicking between codes.
"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," he said.
"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."
Rothfield reported that Abdo had consulted with the game's pair of broadcasters in Fox Sports and Channel Nine before amending the starting time - a move both readily agreed to given more eyeballs would be on their product.
With clear air now provided to the purple powerhouse, Storm CEO Justin Rodski could not hide his joy at the alteration.
“It’s a huge result for Melbourne Storm members and fans,” Rodski was quoted.
“They love their rugby league and they love their club."
Despite a pride in his own side's drawing ability, it is clear that Rodski is of the understanding that his side plays second billing within a city home to 10 AFL franchises.
"The AFL grand final is obviously a really big event. This decision should be applauded," he continued.
“This a huge opportunity for more rugby league growth in Victoria. More eyeballs, bigger audience on a really big stage is so important.”
The Storm will enjoy a week off before the afternoon clash with either the Eels or Panthers, whilst the Demons and Dogs will do battle after sunset in Perth on Saturday the 25th of September.