2020 NRL Grand Final - Panthers v Storm
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 25: Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Storm celebrates scoring a try during the 2020 NRL Grand Final match between the Penrith Panthers and the Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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.

State of Origin - QLD v NSW: Game 1
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 05: A general view during game one of the 2019 State of Origin series between the QueenslandMaroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on June 05, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

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."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Storm fans show their support during a Melbourne Storm NRL training session at Gosch's Paddock on September 28, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

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."

NRL Rd 11 - Raiders v Storm
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 22: Aaron Booth and Tom Eisenhuth of the Storm celebrate Tom Eisenhuth scoring a try during the round 11 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Melbourne Storm at GIO Stadium, on May 22, 2021, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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.