Sydney Swans and their high-profile recruit Brodie Grundy will kick off the 2024 AFL season against his former club Melbourne as part of a new ópening round’of four games ahead of round one.
The AFL has announced the competition will start with two matches in New South Wales and two in Queensland on March 7-9 before a full nine-game round one the week after.
The Swans start the season against the Demons at the SCG on Thursday, March 7. Brisbane Lions host Carlton on Friday, March 8 at the Gabba with two games on the Saturday – pitting new Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick against his former club Richmond, at Heritage Bank Stadium and Collingwood in a preliminary final rematch against the GWS Giants.
Those eight clubs will have a second in-season bye staggered across rounds 2-6 to ensure all clubs have played the same number of matches though round 7.
Round 1 will begin with on March 14 at the MCG with a clash between Carlton and Richmond.
Collingwood will face the Swans on March 15.
“We were fortunate to be in a position where we were able to have access to our major venues in Queensland and New South Wales a weekend earlier than usual which gave us a unique opportunity to play these four games in key markets where footy continues to grow in popularity,” said AFL CEO Andrew Dillon of the opening round.
“The four match-ups are big, with four of our biggest supported Victorian clubs travelling north, and we look forward to starting our season with real momentum before we head into a blockbuster round of matches in round 1.
“Given this weekend also falls on the Labour Day long weekend in Victoria it presents a terrific opportunity for fans to travel north to support their club and enjoy an extended interstate break.
“We are driven to have footy in every home around the country, whether that be playing, coaching, umpiring, supporting or volunteering and starting the season across Queensland and NSW will only amplify this desire.”
The full fixture will be released on Thursday, and there are reports it will include Brisbane versus Collingwood on Easter Thursday, a North Melbourne versus Carlton clash on Good Friday, Essendon versus Carlton King’s Birthday Eve game, and a bumper St Kilda home MCG clash against Collingwood in round 2.
Collingwood and Carlton are expected to feature prominently in the prime time Thursday and Friday night slots this year.
Opening Round AFL Fixture
Sydney v Melbourne (SCG) March 7, 7.20pm
Brisbane v Carlton (Gabba) March 8 7.50pm / 6.50pm local
Gold Coast v Richmond (HBS) March 9, 4.20pm / 3.20pm local
GWS v Collingwood (GS) March 9, 7.30pm