Penrith’s home Finals match against the Warriors will be played next Saturday afternoon.
The shock decision has been made to benefit the Warriors – allowing a friendly broadcast time back into New Zealand.
The NRL has scheduled the clash for 4.05pm Saturday at BlueBet Stadium.
It is a break from tradition with the Minor Premiers usually – but not always – scheduled to play on the opening night of the Finals.
But a number of reasons has led the NRL to schedule the Broncos v Storm clash at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night and shift Penrith from prime time.
Tickets will go on sale to Ticketed Members at 10am on Monday, Non-Ticketed Members at 1pm and the general public on Tuesday.
The Panthers and Warriors have met in Finals matches before, including the 2003 Preliminary Final won by Penrith 28-20. They last clashed in Finals football in 2018 when Penrith won 27-12 at Accor Stadium.
As the regular season concluded today, NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said it was an exciting finish to the year.
“The final positions in the top eight came down to the last match,” Mr Abdo said.
“That is testament to the competitiveness of the Premiership and the extraordinary football the players and Clubs have produced all season.
“More than 3.7 million people attended NRL games this season. That’s the highest total in NRL history. The average crowd for the regular season ended 20 percent higher than last season.
“More than 128 million people have watched our games this season, making Rugby League the most watched sport in the country on television by overall numbers.
“Thank you to all our fans for their support this season.
“Any team can win on any given day as we eagerly anticipate another exciting Finals Series.”
NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series – Week 1
Qualifying Final: Friday, September 8, 7.50pm (EST), Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Broncos (2) v Melbourne Storm (3)
Qualifying Final: Saturday, September 9, 4.05pm (EST), BlueBet Stadium
Penrith Panthers (1) v New Zealand Warriors (4)
Elimination Final: Saturday, September 9, 7.50pm (EST), PointsBet Stadium
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (6) v Sydney Roosters (7)
Elimination Final: Sunday, September 10, 4.05pm (EST), McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle Knights (5) v Canberra Raiders (8)
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.