‘Pretty unique’: Key call on NRL GF time

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NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo says the grand final won’t be brought forward by two hours to accommodate fans in New Zealand should the Warriors win this weekend.

Next week’s grand final is locked in for a 7.30pm AEST kick-off, which means the game won’t finish until close to midnight in New Zealand.

The Warriors have been the feel-good story of the competition this season and have a huge supporter base behind them, but Abdo says the NRL won’t change the kick-off time if they beat the Broncos and qualify for the grand final.

The problem for Warriors fans is that grand final day is already a hectic affair, with the state championships game on first before the NRLW and NRL deciders.

Broadcasters also prefer a later kick-off, with twilight matches trialled for a few seasons before it returned to the night slot in 2013.

“At this stage there are no plans to move the kick-off regardless of which teams are playing in the competition,” Abdo said.

“We have contracted positions for good reasons around these kick-off times.

“It’s around about this time every year that we have the debate about moving the kick-off earlier (in the day).

“We’re really comfortable with the (kick-off time) because it’s a full day of football. The grand final is pretty unique and special for our sport because we have three games of football.

“It’s pretty entertaining, we have fans there from early (in the day) and a 7.30 kick-off means that goes all around Australia in prime time.”

It will be a similar situation this weekend when the Warriors play the Broncos on Saturday, with the game to start at 9.50pm across the ditch.

There were calls for the game to be brought forward to accommodate Warriors fans as we saw in the first week of the finals when they played the Panthers during the day in Sydney, while last week’s home game against the Knights kicked off 6pm local time.

But that won’t be the case on Saturday night, with the NRL also keen to avoid a clash in Brisbane with the Lions hosting Carlton at the Gabba in an AFL preliminary final from 5.15pm.

“Wherever possible, we try to think about our fans and we try to make sure everyone has accessibility to the game, whether that’s live or on television,” Abdo said.

“Having said all that, 7.50 on a Saturday is prime-time television and it’s going to give a lot of families and a lot of people an opportunity to enjoy a high-quality match.

“We were fortunate enough to be able to work with the broadcast partners and many stakeholders to get some changes made over the last couple of weeks when we were playing in New Zealand.

“It was great to see a 6pm kick-off at Go Media Stadium and we had great audiences here in Australia, but we’re now in the preliminary finals and we’re playing in Australia.

“We’ve got a 7.50 kick-off for Friday and Saturday, and I’m really excited for both games.”

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