- NZ Warriors to play NRL preliminary final against Broncos in Brisbane
- Kick-off is scheduled for 7:50 p.m. AEST
- New Zealand fans will have to wait almost 10 p.m. for the match to start
The NRL has been criticized for the preliminary final schedule which will force New Zealand fans to stay up until midnight to watch their team’s preliminary final against the Brisbane Broncos.
The Warriors were forced to stay outside New Zealand for the best part of three seasons due to the Covid pandemic, calling the NSW Central Coast and Redcliffe in Queensland home.
Returning to Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium full-time in 2023, the Warriors have been the darlings of the NRL season.
His favorite son, Shaun Johnson, returned home to his career-best form. The Warriors have moved into the top four and now have a real chance of a grand final and a first NRL premiership.
It was a major step forward for New Zealand’s football-loving community with the catchphrase “up the Wahs” adopted by thousands of long-time and new supporters.
Shaun Johnson (centre) has returned to peak form in 2023 as the New Zealand Warriors pose a real charge in the NRL premiership.
Supporters will have to stay up late to watch their team in the preliminary final against the Brisbane Broncos, with kick-off scheduled for around 10pm NZST time.
While the Warriors are the heartwarming story of the winter, the governing body did them no favors by not changing the kickoff time of Saturday’s clash with the Broncos to move the clock forward start.
With the two-hour time difference between the east coast of Australia and New Zealand, this 7:50pm AEST kick-off means viewers in the Shaky Islands will be up extra late to catch all the action.
Senior football reporter David Riccio said it was a missed opportunity to make the most of the Warriors’ growing popularity.
“We need to understand what is happening in New Zealand in relation to the growth of the game,” Riccio said on SEN.
The Warriors’ first final in Australia this season was against Penrith and an earlier kick-off was arranged so Kiwi fans could watch it at a decent time.
“There is unprecedented interest in the Warriors and the NRL. The brand is making breakthroughs like we’ve never seen in the NRL.
“When we approach discussions about a second team in New Zealand and the possibility of hosting a State of Origin match against New Zealand, you have to take every important opportunity that comes your way and that is the case from NOW.”
“There is a wave of movement where new fans of the game are buying tickets to go see the Warriors play.
“You can’t buy a jersey in New Zealand, so the NRL had to pivot and change the kick-off time to accommodate this specific moment.
“It’s a monumental moment for the game in terms of the growth of the game… It’s too late now and it should have been changed and it should have been foreshadowed.”
The Warriors had an afternoon kick-off in their first final against Penrith in Australia and an early kick-off when they returned home to face Newcastle in week two.
But no concessions were made to them in Brisbane for the preliminary final, despite the success of those afternoon tee times.
“The TV ratings have been strong and the crowds have been strong for every one of these kickoffs (4 p.m.), 6 p.m. in New Zealand,” Riccio said.
“There is no indication that this Saturday evening, by moving it two hours earlier, would have a major impact on the crowds on the one hand and the television audiences on the other.
“I would say it would have a bigger impact on TV audiences in New Zealand.”
“It’s a missed opportunity to throw this game at 10 a.m. and end at midnight…and the kids stay up until midnight watching the Warriors.”
The decision was also criticized by Warriors fans.
“It would have to be sooner to know if the Warriors are there or not. It’s ridiculous that kick-off time is dictated by a poor quality TV network when everyone loves afternoon GF kick-offs,” posted one two.
Although many remain optimistic, whatever the kick-off time.
“Let’s not get too upset about kickoff time, Warriors fans. After all, we’ll have to get used to the late nights before the Grand Final,” posted another.