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Port, Suns to face off in Shanghai in round eight clash

Dinny Navaratnam  October 26, 2016 3:43 PM

Footy Feed: Shanghai shootout The AFL announces Port Adelaide and Gold Coast will play in China in season 2017
AFL 2016 Media - China Match Announcement

Robbie Gray and Touk Miller at the announcement of the Shanghai game

PORT Adelaide and Gold Coast will face off in Shanghai on Sunday, May 14 next year in the AFL's first clash for premiership points outside of Australia and New Zealand.

And both clubs will have their byes earlier than the rest of the League as a result, getting the week off after the round eight clash.

WATCH: Take a tour of Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai

Port will play 'host' to the Suns in the landmark game after the Power purchased a home game from Gold Coast. However, the Power will maintain 11 home matches at Adelaide Oval – the same amount as 2016.

The fixture in China is expected to become an annual event. 

It will be staged at 1.20pm in Shanghai, which will be 3.20 AEST.

Jiangwan Stadium will be reconfigured to hold 15,000 fans. It is the same stadium that staged an exhibition match between Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions in 2010.

The week off should help with the players' recovery, but Port president David Koch was dismissive of fatigue being an issue. 

"A League players play here on the weekend, go and play in Tokyo on the Wednesday and come back here (Melbourne) on the weekend and play locally. Surely, we're tougher than those players?" Koch said.

The match was announced at the Chinese Museum in Melbourne's Chinatown on Wednesday, with Port star Robbie Gray and Suns young gun Touk Miller on hand for the occasion. Also attending was Port's international academy recruit and former Team China captain Chen Shaoliang. 

The Power has made back about three-quarters of the cost of the China game already, so the club is confident it will make money out of the venture. 

Koch was excited about the prospect of the sport growing in China, and said AFL was being played in 12 high schools in Shanghai.

Chinese broadcasting station CCTV televised Port's AFL matches through the country in 2016. 

The Power are committed to the fixture over the longer term but could face other opponents in the following seasons.

"Our supporters and our Chinese financial supporters are committed for three to five years. We see that as a firm commitment for us but would love to do it even longer and for it to become an annual fixture," Koch said.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan was somewhat more circumspect than Koch, but said he expected to keep playing matches for premiership points in China. 

"This needs to be a long-term view. Like everything, you make decisions, then you've got to execute. Now we've got to go up and make this a success," McLachlan said. 

Suns chairman Tony Cochrane was excited about the prospect of strengthening the links between Gold Coast and China.

He also declared the minimum expectation for his club in 2017. 

"We're going to make the finals," Cochrane said. 

The Suns finished fourth last this year and lost gun midfielders Dion Prestia (Richmond) and Jaeger O'Meara (Hawthorn) after the pair asked for trades, but gained Pearce Hanley (Brisbane Lions), Jarryd Lyons (Adelaide) and Jarrod Witts (Collingwood).

The full 2017 fixture will be released on Thursday.