Main content

AFL fixture: Club-by-club guide

EXCLUSIVE: Week off before the 2016 finals series Simon Lethlean reveals to afl.com.au a radical new element to the 2016 Fixture

The weighting rule: the fixture explained
• Click here for the full fixture
• Top teams light up Friday nights
• AFL introduces week off before finals
• WATCH: Fixtures rated, Adelaide-GWS
• WATCH: Fixtures rated, Hawthorn-Western Bulldogs
• What each club said

PROS: The Crows open the Anzac Round with reigning premier Hawthorn in a Friday night clash at the MCG. They have been given more games in Melbourne – six, including three at the MCG, two of them consecutive fixtures against Melbourne and Carlton in rounds 15 and 16 respectively. Also play three of four games at Adelaide Oval from round eight to 11, and four of their last five games at home.
CONS:
Play six of this year's finallists in the first seven rounds, and encounter Fremantle (away), Port Adelaide and West Coast in the last three rounds.
PLAY TWICE:
West Coast, Fremantle, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Geelong.
BYE: Round 13.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
North Melbourne (a), Port Adelaide (h), Richmond, (a), Sydney Swans (h).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Brisbane Lions (h), Fremantle (a), Port Adelaide (a), West Coast (h).
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Six.
THEY SAY:
"Our key requests have been met and we are happy with the result. Importantly, there are plenty of positives for our fans and the fixture also supports our commercial objectives. We play quality opposition across a mix of timeslots, which I'm confident will be well supported by Crows members and supporters. Thursday night football was a great success for us this season so we are pleased that we have been rewarded again in 2016. Similarly, the team has been recognised for their exciting footy last year with 12 night games across the season." – CEO Andrew Fagan
WE SAY:
If the Crows, under new coach Don Pyke, can emerge relatively unscathed from a particularly tough first eight rounds, they will be in good shape because thereafter the draw opens up somewhat for them. They won't want to be trying to make up ground in the last few rounds when the pressure rises again. – Ben Collins

PROS: The Lions have seven games in Victoria, which will appease their Fitzroy fan base, and two big drawcards at home, with Collingwood and Hawthorn to play at the Gabba.
CONS:
They don't have a Friday night game, will open their season in Perth against West Coast, and have some tough double match-ups against the Eagles, Port Adelaide and Geelong.
PLAY TWICE:
West Coast, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Gold Coast and Carlton.
BYE: Round 15.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
West Coast (a), North Melbourne (h), Geelong (a), Gold Coast (h).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Adelaide (a), Carlton (h), Geelong (h), St Kilda (a)
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Five.
THEY SAY:
"It's a pretty challenging fixture and a particularly tough start with the opening three games against potentially top-four teams. But we are delighted to have seven games in Victoria, that is a great result for our loyal fans who have been asking for an extra game in Melbourne for a while now, and to get Hawthorn, Collingwood, Carlton, Geelong and the Suns as blockbusters at the Gabba gives us some big games to market to the fans up in Queensland." – CEO Greg Swann.
WE SAY:
Got their big three wishes granted – to play two big games at the Gabba (Collingwood in round eight – when James Aish will return to face his former side - and Hawthorn in round 10), and to increase their number of games in Victoria (four at Etihad Stadium, two at the MCG, one at Simonds Stadium). No Friday night games is a blow but not unexpected and there's some tough double match-ups but they'll be happy to have ticked off some key areas. – Jennifer Phelan

 

PROS: A run of seven weeks leading into the bye, when Carlton plays all its matches in Victoria, including a couple of rivalry games against Essendon and Collingwood.
CONS: It’s a tough start to the season for the Blues, with four top-eight opponents from 2015 in the first five rounds.
PLAY TWICE: Sydney Swans, Collingwood, St Kilda, Essendon and Brisbane Lions.
BYE: Round 13.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Richmond (a), Sydney Swans (h), Gold Coast (a), Western Bulldogs (h).
LAST FOUR WEEKS: St Kilda (h), Brisbane Lions (a), Melbourne (h), Essendon (a).
SIX-DAY BREAKS: Six.
THEY SAY: "Our South Australian members and supporters are very important to us and we have expressed our frustration to the AFL that once again we will not be travelling to Adelaide. We certainly asked for a game is South Australia.” – CEO Stephen Trigg.
WE SAY: After six Friday night fixtures in 2015, Carlton has none this year, with one Thursday night match to kick off the season and four Saturday night games. The Blues’ attempts to boost memberships won’t be helped by having a low-key fixture but after gutting the list in the trade period, it's a fair fixture for a side that will surely struggle next year. – Dinny Navaratnam

ANALYSIS: Fixture opens door for more

PROS: The young Pies will increase their familiarity with the MCG, where they are again scheduled to play 14 games, and the club has maintained a strong Friday night presence with five such fixtures. They have just one trip to Perth, don't play triple reigning premier Hawthorn until the final round, face wooden-spooner Carlton twice and play their last six games in Melbourne.
CONS: Face a tough first fortnight with clashes against Sydney Swans and Richmond, and three six-day turnarounds in the opening seven rounds. Denied a request for a round one clash with the Western Bulldogs at the MCG, the Pies also have successive road trips for the first time since 1995 against Greater Western Sydney and Adelaide in rounds 16 and 17 respectively, with former Giant Adam Treloar to face his old club for the first time.
PLAY TWICE: West Coast, Richmond, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Carlton.
BYE: Round 13.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Sydney Swans (a), Richmond (h), St Kilda (a), Melbourne (h).
LAST FOUR WEEKS: Richmond (a), Western Bulldogs (a), Gold Coast (h), Hawthorn (a).
SIX-DAY BREAKS: Five.
THEY SAY: "We are very comfortable with our fixture for 2016. From the point of view of our fans, it is definitely a great draw. Our members and supporters love the MCG and its big occasions … the days and times at which we play are also really fan-friendly, with five Friday nights, five Saturday nights, four Saturday afternoons and two stand-alone Monday fixtures on ANZAC Day and Queens Birthday. This is a fixture both our fans and players can be very comfortable with." – CEO Gary Pert
WE SAY: The Pies' quest to return to the finals after two misfires will be helped by playing 11 of their opening 14 games at the MCG, which could help provide a strong springboard for the last third of the season. In fact, they might well be 8-3 for the third year running. Perhaps ominously, the 'Woods face seven of this year's finallists in the second half of the season. – Ben Collins

The must-see games of 2016

PROS: The Bombers don't strike a 2015 finalist until their round seven clash with the Sydney Swans at ANZ Stadium, and won't leave Melbourne for the last month of the minor rounds. Will now feature in three 'event' games devised by former coach Kevin Sheedy: against Collingwood on Anzac Day, against Richmond for 'Dreamtime at the 'G', and against Geelong in the inaugural 'Country Game'.
CONS:
The Dons hit the road twice in the opening three rounds to take on Gold Coast and Port Adelaide, while three six-day breaks in the first six rounds might also prove challenging.
PLAY TWICE:
Richmond, Geelong, St Kilda, Gold Coast, Carlton.
BYE: Round 14.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
Gold Coast (a), Melbourne (h), Port Adelaide (a), Geelong (h).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Geelong (a), Gold Coast (h), Western Bulldogs (h), Carlton (h).
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Five.
THEY SAY:
"Our MCG blockbuster games are the biggest games outside of the Grand Final, and I know our fans are already clearing space in their calendars. We are disappointed a number of our requests were overlooked by the AFL. Our draw presents some commercial challenges for the football club, with only one home Friday night and Saturday night game in 2016.
 We are happy with the draw from a football perspective." – CEO Xavier Campbell
WE SAY:
If the Bombers are to rise under new coach John Worsfold, their best chance is to start and finish well, given they face bottom-eight sides in each of the opening six rounds and will have to contend with just one 2015 finalist (Western Bulldogs) in the last four rounds. They will need to capitalise on those periods, because in between they have a tough 12-game stretch between rounds seven and 19 when they face eight of this year's top-eight sides. – Ben Collins

John Worsfold has taken over as Dons coach. What will 2016 have in store for his team? Picture: AFL Media



PROS: The Dockers play just two night matches on the road (well down on the average of six) to avoid short turnarounds.
CONS:
They play on the MCG once, which is the minimum for all clubs. Their Friday night presence (two games) and national free-to-air exposure (five matches) is also well down.
PLAY TWICE:
West Coast, Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, Greater Western Sydney, Gold Coast.
BYE: Round 15
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
Western Bulldogs (a), Gold Coast (h), West Coast (a), North Melbourne (a).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
West Coast (h), Adelaide (h), GWS (a), Western Bulldogs (h).  
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Five.
THEY SAY: "Given that we have one of the most demanding travel schedules in the League, we believe the AFL has placed an unfair burden on the club by scheduling so many games in venues that require much longer flight times than Perth to Melbourne and return for example. Ultimately though, to get to where we want to as a club, we have to win wherever we are scheduled to play, and we look forward to the challenge that our away fixture presents." - CEO Steve Rosich.
WE SAY: The Dockers do travel to Launceston, Darwin, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Canberra, but they have only five six-day breaks, travelling on three of those. A run of six games against non-finalists between rounds 10 and 16 is their best chance to bank a run of wins, and the club plays eight consecutive Saturday games between rounds six and 13. Based on the fixture, Fremantle will again be close enough if it is good enough. – Nathan Schmook  

PROS: Geelong will host Friday night football twice in 2016, against the Sydney Swans in round 16 and the Western Bulldogs in round 19. Skilled Stadium has previously played host once in that timeslot, in 2014 against North Melbourne.
CONS: The Cats don’t have many matches against the big-drawing teams. Geelong only plays one game against Hawthorn, Collingwood, Richmond and Essendon.
PLAY TWICE: Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, GWS, Essendon, Brisbane Lions.
BYE: Round 15.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Hawthorn (h), GWS (a), Brisbane Lions (h), Essendon (a).
LAST FOUR WEEKS: Essendon (h), Richmond (a), Brisbane Lions (a), Melbourne (h).
SIX-DAY BREAKS: Five.
THEY SAY: "In an ideal world, we would host all 11 home games at Simonds Stadium, but we understand this is not possible. Having said that, we would prefer to play our Melbourne home games at the MCG, and will continue to push this issue with the AFL. We will be seeking a ninth home game at Simonds Stadium once the fourth stage of the redevelopment is completed." – CEO Brian Cook.
WE SAY: It’s a terrific draw for Geelong’s on-field prospects, with only two return matches against 2014 finalists – Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs. With all but five games airing on free-to-air television (the same number as Collingwood), Cats supporters will be well placed to watch their team. The clash against the Crows at Adelaide Oval in round eight will be fascinating - with star recruit Patrick Dangerfield to take on his old club. – Dinny Navaratnam

How will Crows fans react when Patrick Dangerfield graces Adelaide Oval as a Cat? Picture: AFL Media

 

PROS: Have been scheduled for seven Saturday twilight games (five at home), which appeals to their market. Have also been given just four six-day breaks, which is the least in the AFL.
CONS:
Have lost their home game against Collingwood, which has drawn average crowds of over 20,000 the past three years, and they head over to Perth twice and don't play on Friday night at all.
PLAY TWICE:
Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne, Essendon, Brisbane Lions.
BYE: Round 13.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
Essendon (h), Fremantle (a), Carlton (h), Brisbane Lions (a).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Greater Western Sydney (h), Essendon (a), Collingwood (a), Port Adelaide (h).  
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Four.
THEY SAY:
"For the second year in a row, Metricon Stadium is set to host all of our home games on a Saturday.
The feedback from our members has been incredibly strong that they prefer to attend Saturday matches, particularly in the twilight timeslot.
In 2016, half of our home games will be twilight matches at Metricon Stadium, and in a win for the city we will host Carlton and St Kilda on the coast during the Victorian school holidays, creating great economic impact for the Gold Coast economy." – CEO Andrew Travis
WE SAY:
It's a blow to lose the crowd-drawing clash with the Magpies but games against the Blues and Saints create opportunity to attract holidaying families. Heading to Perth twice isn't ideal, given they haven't won there in seven starts, but they've been granted plenty of opportunity in their preferred timeslot of Saturday twilight games at home. Their ladder position this season means they'll play three other bottom teams twice, so while they'll miss out on the commercial boom from hosting the Pies, they'll have more chances to rack up some wins. – Jennifer Phelan.

PROS: The Giants play home games either side of their mid-season bye in round 15, giving them a significant block of three weeks without travel, and also play three of their last five games at home leading into what could be a maiden finals campaign.
CONS:
Play last season's ladder leaders Fremantle, preliminary finalists North Melbourne, plus fellow top eight hopefuls Port Adelaide and Geelong twice.
PLAY TWICE:
Fremantle, Sydney Swans, Port Adelaide, Gold Coast, Geelong.
BYE: Round 15
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
Melbourne (a), Geelong (h), Sydney Swans (a), Port Adelaide (h).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Gold Coast (a),West Coast (h), Fremantle (h), North Melbourne (a).
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Five.
THEY SAY:
"We’re pleased to have big clubs like Hawthorn, Collingwood, the Swans, Carlton and West Coast coming to western Sydney in 2016. We’re delighted to have five of our eight home games in Sydney scheduled in the family-friendly time slot of 4.35pm on a Saturday afternoon. Overall we think it’s a solid fixture as we come off our best season yet." - chief executive Dave Matthews.
WE SAY:
The timing of Sydney's Easter Show again means the Giants don't play a game at their home ground Spotless Stadium until round six, and they face an interesting run home after the bye. The Giants play Collingwood, Port Adelaide and Richmond towards the end of the year, with games against West Coast, Fremantle and North Melbourne to finish the regular season. If they're to make their first finals campaign, they'll need to win at least four of those games. – Adam Curley

PROS: Six Friday night games and two Thursday night fixtures means the premiers will be big-stage regulars. They also have four games at 'home' in Tasmania and only travel to Perth once, in round 22 against West Coast.
CONS:
The host of Friday night games means the Hawks have eight six-days breaks during the season.
PLAY TWICE:
West Coast, North Melbourne, Sydney Swans, Melbourne, Richmond
BYE: Round 15
FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Geelong (a), West Coast (h), Western Bulldogs (a), St Kilda (h).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Melbourne (a), North Melbourne (h), West Coast (a), Collingwood (h).
SIX-DAY BREAKS: Eight.
THEY SAY: "Overall we are pleased with the 2016 fixture, and think it’s a strong draw for Hawks fans and members. We have drawn seven home games at the MCG, with big match-ups against West Coast, Richmond, Sydney Swans, North Melbourne and Collingwood that are certain to attract big crowds." – Hawks chief executive Stuart Fox.
WE SAY:
When you're the reigning premiers chasing a fourth consecutive flag, the announcement of the 2016 fixture probably isn't even thought about, but the Hawks will be pleased no doubt. They travel five times before the round 15 bye but three of those trips are 'home' games at Aurora Stadium, and they only head to WA once for the year. – Adam Curley

PROS: With four of their first five games at the MCG, plus the first two against non-finalists from 2015, the Demons have a chance to get off to a hot start.
CONS: With no Friday night matches for the club and 14 games on Foxtel, Melbourne will be out of the spotlight next year.
PLAY TWICE: Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Collingwood, St Kilda, Gold Coast.
BYE: Round 14.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS: GWS (h), Essendon (a), North Melbourne (a), Collingwood (a).
LAST FOUR WEEKS: Hawthorn (h), Port Adelaide (a), Carlton (a), Geelong (a).
SIX-DAY BREAKS: Six.
THEY SAY: "We play eight of the first 12 games at the MCG and from a football point of view we have no back-to-back six-day breaks, which is pleasing. Securing the Anzac Eve match against the Tigers on a Sunday night is a good result for both clubs." – CEO Peter Jackson.
WE SAY: The Demons have set themselves the goal of making finals in Paul Roos’ final season as coach and the fixture allows it to happen. Melbourne has a tough run either side of the bye, but with only one return match against a finalist from 2015, the Dees have a shot at playing in September if they play well enough. – Dinny Navaratnam

PROS: North hosts Richmond in the first ever Friday night game in Tasmania in round 11, and starts the year with three of its first four games at home. The Roos only have to make the trip to Perth once for the season.
CONS:
The Kangas have eight six-day breaks and they'll have to manage that back-to-back on three separate occasions throughout the season, plus they play the premiers Hawthorn twice.
PLAY TWICE:
Hawthorn, Sydney Swans, Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, St Kilda.
BYE: Round 15
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
Adelaide (h), Brisbane Lions (a), Melbourne (h), Fremantle (h).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Western Bulldogs (a), Hawthorn (a), Sydney Swans (h), Greater Western Sydney (h).
SIX-DAY BREAKS: Eight.
THEY SAY:
"From a footy point of view, it’s certainly a tough draw, but that was always to be expected after finishing fourth in 2015. Our fans will be pleased to see us playing more games on Friday night this season, as well as several other prime-time games, including four Saturday night matches and a Thursday night game against Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval." – North chief executive Carl Dilena.
WE SAY: Three back-to-back six day breaks will be difficult to manage, but in this day and age, the Roos have plenty of time to prepare for them. It looks a tough draw but a return to the big timeslots will be great for the pioneers of Friday night footy and while they play Hawthorn, the Swans, Adelaide and the Bulldogs twice, if they can win the majority of those games it could set up their season. - Adam Curley

PROS: One of the few upsides of a poor season is having a relatively easy fixture the next year. Port avoids doubling up next season against any of the top-four teams from 2015.
CONS: Three six-day breaks in the first five rounds could leave the Power vulnerable early in the season.
PLAY TWICE: Adelaide, Richmond, GWS, Melbourne, Brisbane Lions.
BYE: Round 14.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS: St Kilda (h), Adelaide (a), Essendon (h), GWS (a).
LAST FOUR WEEKS: Sydney Swans (a), Melbourne (h), Adelaide (h), Gold Coast (a).
SIX-DAY BREAKS: Seven.
THEY SAY: "We are delighted to be playing the majority of our 11 home games at night. As a club, we are looking forward to hosting St Kilda in our season opener in round one and then to host Essendon and Richmond in Friday night games across the season is hugely significant, along with Hawthorn on a Thursday night. Above all though, we are honoured to be able to host Geelong on a Saturday night in Anzac Round." – CEO Keith Thomas.
WE SAY: The 2014 preliminary finalists are primed to bounce back from a down year after being handed a dream fixture. Commercially it’s a different story. Port has struggled to make profits since making the Grand Final in 2007 and the club doubles up against three low-drawing teams in GWS, Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions. – Dinny Navaratnam.

PROS: The Tigers travel six times, just once more than the minimum of five for Victorian clubs. They also play 13 night games, including six Friday nights, giving the team great exposure.    
CONS:
The cost of Friday night games is often six-day breaks and the Tigers have eight of those. They play the Hawks and Swans twice, as well as possible finalists Port Adelaide and Collingwood.
PLAY TWICE:
Hawthorn, Sydney Swans, Port Adelaide, Collingwood, Essendon
BYE: Round 13
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
Carlton (h), Collingwood (a), Adelaide (h), West Coast (a)
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Collingwood (h), Geelong (h), St Kilda (h), Sydney Swans (a)  
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Eight
THEY SAY:
"We think this is a great fixture for both our fans and our commercial partners. A similar fixture last season saw us No.1 in the competition for home-and-away crowds, so we expect it will again be embraced by our members and supporters. One Thursday night, six Friday nights and seven Saturday nights are significant television time-slots, and that will provide fantastic exposure." - CEO Brendon Gale.
WE SAY: There are no excuses for the Tigers in this fixture, which has them travelling outside Victoria sparingly and finishing the season with five of their last seven games at the MCG. Four of their last five games are also against non-finalists from 2015. The AFL is banking on the Tigers performing, with a heavy Friday night schedule, and all marquee matches, such as the season-opener against Carlton, have been retained. – Nathan Schmook   

PROS: North Melbourne is the only preliminary finalist the Saints play twice, also facing last-placed Carlton twice. They also travel interstate the minimum five times. 
CONS:
The Saints have been taken off Friday nights all together and play just five night games, with 10 Sunday matches (including four twilight).  
PLAY TWICE:
North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Essendon, Carlton
BYE: Round 13
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
Port Adelaide (a), Western Bulldogs (h), Collingwood (h), Hawthorn (a)
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Carlton (a), Sydney Swans (h), Richmond (a), Brisbane Lions (h)
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Five
THEY SAY:
"In round two we look forward to celebrating the 300th game of our inspirational skipper Nick Riewoldt. Later in the year, historically we'll stage the first ever Pride Cup game with the Sydney Swans. We've got no back-to-back travel and out footy department is pretty pleased about that. We think in all there's plenty to be excited about." – CEO Matt Finnis   
WE SAY:
The AFL is prioritising blockbusters on Friday nights, and St Kilda should earn its fair share in the future. Not quite yet though in their development phase and being taken off the marquee slot is not a bad call. The club has shown initiative in launching new themed matches and the AFL has accommodate these, which will help the club's growth and bottom line. Other highlights will include Jake Carlisle's first game against Essendon in round nine, and the round three clash against Collingwood to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1966 premiership. – Nathan Schmook  



PROS: Only have to travel to Perth once, to play Fremantle in round 19, and play home games against four clubs with massive fan bases in Collingwood, Essendon, Hawthorn and Richmond.
CONS:
Play reigning premiers Hawthorn twice, with the first of those fixtures coming off a six-day break.
PLAY TWICE:
Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Greater Western Sydney, Richmond, Carlton.
BYE: Round 14
FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Collingwood (h), Carlton (a), GWS (h), Adelaide (a)
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Port Adelaide (h), St Kilda (a), North Melbourne (a), Richmond (h)
SIX-DAY BREAKS: Six
THEY SAY:
"We requested a good number of games in Melbourne in 2016 and we’re fortunate our Victorian fans will be able to see the team in action six times next season. While we’ve been scheduled three matches at ANZ Stadium in the last year of our contract, as the AFL said earlier in the week, the club is open to relocating the fixtures to the SCG if future negotiations made this possible." – Swans chief executive Andrew Ireland.
WE SAY: Nothing in this draw will worry the Swans - they play the Hawks twice but that won't worry them. Three Friday night games and one Thursday night will be huge again for the club, and they play three of their first four games at home coming off the bye, which could set up another tilt at the top four. - Adam Curley

PROS: Three games at the MCG (up from one this season), home Friday night clashes against Richmond (round four) and Hawthorn (round 22), and return meetings with the Brisbane Lions.
CONS:
A hard travelling fixture with eight six-day breaks (the equal most in the competition), which happen back-to-back on two occasions. They finish the season in Adelaide against the Crows, which is less of a concern if they're playing finals now there's a bye scheduled between round 23 and the first week. 
PLAY TWICE:
Hawthorn, Fremantle, Adelaide, Collingwood, Brisbane Lions.
BYE: Round 14.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
Brisbane Lions (h), Hawthorn (a), Fremantle (h), Richmond (h).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
Fremantle (a), Greater Western Sydney (a), Hawthorn (h), Adelaide (a).  
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Eight.  
THEY SAY:
"On balance (we) are pleased with the 2016 fixture. After playing in the 2015 Grand Final we were expecting a challenging draw and that has certainly been forthcoming. While we would have preferred fewer six day breaks … our coaching and fitness staff will manage that situation, as they did this year." – CEO Trevor Nisbett.
WE SAY:
A tough draw for the Grand finalists. While Fremantle plays five of its last seven games at home, West Coast hits the road for four times in nine weeks after the bye leading into finals. The Eagles will also need to focus heavily on recovery and management with eight six-day breaks - two back-to-back - but they did get their request for more MCG time fulfilled after playing there just once before this year's decider. John Worsfold will head to Domain Stadium as coach of Essendon in round 15 for what's sure to be an interesting encounter. – Jennifer Phelan. 

PROS: The Dogs return to Friday night footy for the first time since mid-2012, with three potential blockbusters against North Melbourne, Geelong and Collingwood. Will become prime-time viewing in 12 night games. No consecutive road trips, and 14 games on their fast track at Etihad Stadium. Host big-drawing clubs Collingwood, Richmond, Geelong and Hawthorn.
CONS:
The Dogs weren't granted their wish for a season-opener against Collingwood at the MCG, and on seven occasions they will have to negotiate six-day turnarounds, including three in the opening six rounds, and immediately following early clashes with Freo and Hawthorn. Will also be tested by four road trips from round nine to 17.
PLAY TWICE:
Fremantle, North Melbourne, Geelong, Collingwood, St Kilda.
BYE: Round 14.
FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
Fremantle (h), St Kilda (a), Hawthorn (h), Carlton (a).
LAST FOUR WEEKS:
North Melbourne (h), Collingwood (h), Essendon (a), Fremantle (a).
SIX-DAY BREAKS:
Seven.
THEY SAY:
"We’re thrilled with the draw for 2016 and we thank the AFL for their support. To have three Friday night games, and also to play some of the biggest clubs in our home games, it makes for a fantastic season ahead – and was great recognition of the playing group and the coaches on an incredible 2015. We believe we’ve earned our right to play on those big fixtures." - CEO David Stevenson
WE SAY:
Huge home clashes with Fremantle and Hawthorn (when ex-Hawthorn premiership player Matt Suckling will play against his former side for the first time) in the opening three rounds should provide a good gauge on whether the Dogs will have what it takes to challenge for a drought-breaking flag. If their development continues as expected, they could get away to a fast start, given they play their first seven games at their Etihad Stadium stronghold – a venue record. By the time they embark on the first of five interstate raids in round nine they might well have already built enough momentum and belief to sustain them. – Ben Collins

Matt Suckling will take on his former side Hawthorn in round three. Picture: AFL Media

 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs