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2017 fixture verdict: Every club's pros and cons plus reaction

Fixture's biggest winners and losers Ash Browne and Nathan Schmook put the fixture under the microscope

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PROS: Last season's highest-scoring team in the competition has been rewarded with five Friday night games and a Thursday night blockbuster against Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval, and 13 night games overall.

CONS: The club's fitness staff will be working overtime with seven six-day breaks.

PLAY TWICE: Port Adelaide, Hawthorn, Essendon, Melbourne, Geelong.

BYE: Round 13

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Greater Western Sydney (h), Hawthorn (a), Port Adelaide (a), Essendon (h).

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Port Adelaide (h), Essendon (a), Sydney Swans (h), West Coast (a).

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Seven

THEY SAY: "We are absolutely rapt and feel this fixture reflects the success we have enjoyed both on and off the field in recent times," Adelaide chief executive Andrew Fagan said. "The League has a history of rewarding clubs that play an attacking and entertaining style of football, as well as those that have a large and passionate supporter base and consistently delivering excellent television ratings. Our number of six-day breaks is slightly higher than we would like but consistent with last year."

WE SAY: A great draw both from a football and commercial sense. After a tough first two weeks, the Crows then only play one top-eight team from rounds 3-10. The round 15 encounter against Carlton and star midfielder Bryce Gibbs at the MCG will be one to circle in the diary. Having seven six-day breaks will test the club's medical staff, with one of those coming after a trip to Darwin to face Melbourne. - Lee Gaskin

 

PROS: From last season's finalists, the Lions play only the premiers twice. Three of their last four games are at the Gabba. The Lions also host traditional Victorian clubs Essendon, Geelong and Carlton. 

CONS: No Friday night games, not a big surprise given their dismal form last season. Back to back away games in round seven and eight in Sydney (against the Swans) and Launceston (against Hawthorn).

PLAY TWICE: Gold Coast, Essendon, Richmond, Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide

BYE: Round 11

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Gold Coast (a), Essendon (h), St Kilda (a), Richmond (h).

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Western Bulldogs (h), Gold Coast (h), Melbourne (a), North Melbourne (h).

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Four

THEY SAY: "The fixture gives us really good consistency in the timing of our home games on Saturday evenings, which is great for fans and our corporate partners ," CEO Greg Swann said. "We want to become relevant again as a club and owning a regular timeslot at the Gabba is a big part of that. There are also six games in Melbourne - including two in the opening five rounds - which rewards our loyal Victorian fans. From a footy perspective, we have a good spread of games and only single trips to Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Tasmania, so there is plenty of opportunity for our team to excel."  

WE SAY: A pretty good draw for the rebuilding Lions. Starts with the Q-Clash, only one trip to Perth and only play the premiers twice. Good from a commercial sense, too, with Essendon, Geelong and Carlton travelling to the Gabba. - Lee Gaskin

PROS: The Blues have the potential to get off to a flyer not having to face a top-eight team until round six.

CONS: The legs will be weary after two trips to Perth. They also have a tough run into the finals against West Coast, Hawthorn and the Swans. Just one Friday night game as the Blues continue to pay the penalty for misfiring in too many of those fixtures in 2015.

PLAY TWICE: Richmond, Melbourne, Essendon, Gold Coast, Sydney Swans.

BYE: Round 11

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Richmond (h), Melbourne (a), Essendon (h), Gold Coast (h).

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Essendon (a), West Coast (a), Hawthorn (h), Sydney Swans (a).

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Four

THEY SAY: "We are mostly satisfied with our fixture for 2017, and believe it is fair and reasonable," Carlton chief executive Steven Trigg said. "From our members' point of view, we believe they will be happy with an increase in both Saturday afternoon and Saturday night games. However, our draw does again present some commercial challenges for the football club, including a lack of Friday night timeslots and no scheduled home game against Collingwood for the first time."

WE SAY: Couldn't ask to a better start to the season. The Blues don't have to leave Melbourne until round five and have 16 games in Victoria. Two trips to Perth is a concern, but is offset by having a month straight of games at the MCG from rounds 14-17. The Blues will want to get their wins early before a tough run into the finals featuring the Eagles, Hawks and Swans. - Lee Gaskin

The Blues are pumped not to face a top-eight team until round six. Picture: AFL Photos

PROS: Seventeen games in Victoria (14 of those at the MCG) and only one trip to Perth and Adelaide. First three games either on Thursday or Friday night.

CONS: No Thursday or Friday night games after round three. Only face traditional rivals Carlton once in round seven and have a five-day break after their Anzac Day game.

PLAY TWICE: Essendon, Geelong, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Port Adelaide.

BYE: Round 13

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Western Bulldogs (h), Richmond (a), Sydney Swans (a), St Kilda (h).

LAST FOUR WEEKS: North Melbourne (a), Port Adelaide (a), Geelong (h), Melbourne (h).

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Five (also one five-day break).

THEY SAY: "This year’s theme is all about families. We’ve listened to the feedback from our supporters … we’ve worked with the AFL and 16 of our games are either during the day or twilight to give everyone the opportunity to come along and share the match-day experience," said CEO Gary Pert.

WE SAY: The competition's biggest club gets plenty of free-to-air TV exposure early with their opening six games on Channel Seven. Couldn't ask for a tougher start than against the reigning premiers and a rematch with former spearhead Travis Cloke in round one. The Magpies enjoy more than a month at the MCG with four straight games from rounds 12-16 before a tough run home with four top-eight teams in their last six games. Daniel Wells will have to wait until round 20 to face his former club North Melbourne for the first time. - Lee Gaskin 

PROS: Avoid a lot of travel in the second half of the season with seven straight games in Melbourne from rounds 15-21.

CONS: Fitness staff will be working overtime with six six-day breaks and a five-day break after their Anzac Day clash. Also have two trips to Queensland and New South Wales.

PLAY TWICE: Brisbane Lions, Carlton, Adelaide, Collingwood, Fremantle.

BYE: Round 13

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Hawthorn (h), Brisbane Lions (a), Carlton (a), Adelaide (a).

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Carlton (h), Adelaide (h), Gold Coast (a), Fremantle (h).

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Six (and one five-day break).

THEY SAY: "We believe the draw presents great opportunities from a team performance perspective," Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell said. “Of course, we would like to be playing more Friday night football, but we welcome the increase in games scheduled on Saturday afternoons and evenings."

WE SAY: Finishing with the wooden spoon has its benefits. Along with having the No.1 draft pick, the Bombers also only play one top-eight team (Adelaide) twice next season. They can get off to a quick start with two of their opening seven games against teams who made the finals. The downside of their poor season is the Bombers only have two Friday night games and haven't been scheduled for any Thursday night fixtures. - Lee Gaskin 

PROS: After missing the finals in 2016, Fremantle faces just one top-six team twice next season (Geelong). The Dockers have also avoided trips to the Northern Territory and Tasmania for the first time since 2011. Four six-day breaks, compared to five in 2016.

CONS: The Dockers have no games scheduled for the key Thursday night or Friday night timeslots.

PLAY TWICE: Geelong, West Coast, North Melbourne, Richmond, Essendon

BYE: Round 13

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Geelong (h), Port Adelaide (a), Western Bulldogs (h), Melbourne (a) 

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Gold Coast (h), Sydney Swans (a), Richmond (h), Essendon (a)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Four

THEY SAY: "This is a really positive fixture for our members and players alike. Hats off to the AFL for listening to our concerns about six-day breaks and long-haul travel," Fremantle chief executive Steve Rosich said. 

WE SAY: No matches scheduled for Thursday night or Friday night is not a great surprise after the Dockers' poor performance in 2016. However, 11 home games at Domain Stadium (12 in total), and three in a row between rounds five and seven, sets the Dockers up nicely as they look to return to the finals hunt. - Ben Guthrie

PROS: Three games at Simonds Stadium between rounds nine and 11, including a marquee clash against reigning premier the Western Bulldogs in round nine after stadium works are complete in mid-May.

CONS: The Cats have been handed eight six-day breaks within their fixture, the equal most in the competition (along with Hawthorn, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs). Just seven home games at Simonds Stadium, after eight in 2016. 

PLAY TWICE: Hawthorn, Adelaide, Collingwood, Greater Western Sydney, Fremantle 

BYE: Round 12 

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Fremantle (a), North Melbourne (h), Melbourne (h), Hawthorn (a)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Sydney Swans (h), Richmond (h), Collingwood (a), Greater Western Sydney (h)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Eight

THEY SAY: "We understand why the AFL has scheduled only seven games at Simonds Stadium in 2017. Whilst we are disappointed by this outcome, we are pleased by the number of 'big ticket' games that have been scheduled at the ground," Cats chief executive Brian Cook said.

WE SAY: With eight six-day breaks during the season, Geelong's conditioning staff will have a busy job preparing the players to back it up the next week. Not having eight home games at Simonds Stadium stings a little, although four appearances on Friday night and two on Thursday night emphasises how watchable the Cats are. - Ben Guthrie

PROS: Just two six-day breaks for the Suns, and despite a tough start, they face top-eight teams from this year just five times in their last 14 games.

CONS: Play five 2016 finalists in the first eight games before the bye, including a lost home game against Port in China, and face both Sydney teams away.

PLAY TWICE: Brisbane Lions, Carlton, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide

BYE: Round nine

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Brisbane Lions (h), Greater Western Sydney (a), Hawthorn (h), Carlton (a)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Fremantle (a), Brisbane Lions (a), Essendon (h), Port Adelaide (a)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Two

THEY SAY: "We are incredibly pleased with our 2017 fixture," Gold Coast chief executive Andrew Travis said. "To have the core group of traditional Melbourne clubs playing on the coast is not only great for us, but will be extremely beneficial for the broader Gold Coast. A great example of that is we know Collingwood fans love travelling to the coast and playing them in the middle of the July school holidays will have Magpie families across the country booking their winter vacations to the Gold Coast immediately. Hosting this selection of teams is unique especially when you consider it will only be just the second time both Richmond and Hawthorn have played a game on the coast since our establishment."

WE SAY: If the Suns can get their best 22 on the park before the bye in round nine it could set up their season, especially with three of their five games against this year's finalists being played at home. They'll need to get their travel perfected with a trip to China in round eight, then Darwin in round 10. Jaeger O'Meara gets to see his former team twice in rounds three and 12, while Dion Prestia heads back to Metricon Stadium with Richmond in round 19. - Adam Curley 

PROS: GWS play just four of last year's finalists in their 12 games before the bye, so should be well set in the top four by the mid-season break. Travel to Perth and Adelaide once.

CONS: Face the premiers and runners-up twice, along with Geelong and West Coast. Play at the MCG only once.

PLAY TWICE: Geelong, Richmond, Sydney Swans, West Coast, Western Bulldogs

BYE: Round 13

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Adelaide (a), Gold Coast (h), North Melbourne (a), Port Adelaide (h)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Melbourne (h), Western Bulldogs (a), West Coast (a), Geelong (a)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Five

THEY SAY: "This is an exciting fixture and sees the Giants given greater exposure with more primetime and free to air games than ever before," chief executive Dave Matthews said. "On the back of making the finals for the first time and proving to be one of the highest rating teams at the back end of this season, we’re delighted to be playing three games in the marquee slot of Friday night. To bring Friday night football to the ACT early in the 2017 premiership season will be a significant occasion for our club and the Canberra community. We’re pleased to have big Victorian clubs like Collingwood, Richmond, Essendon and Geelong coming to western Sydney as well as the Sydney Derby in round 17."

WE SAY: The premiership favourites will be salivating at their draw, with three Friday night games, the first in round six against the Dogs in Canberra, a huge reward for last season's rise up the ladder. They play potential finalists in each of the last five games of the season, but with four of those home games, that run could set up a top-two finish. Brett Deledio will face his old club in round nine. - Adam Curley 

The Giants should be pretty excited with their 2017 fixture draw. Picture: AFL Photos

PROS: Play eight of the first nine games of the season at the MCG and at home in Tasmania, and also travel to Perth and Sydney just once apiece.

CONS: Two trips to Adelaide and eight six-day breaks will be tough for the Hawks, especially rounds 10 and 11 when they take on the Swans and Port Adelaide away.

PLAY TWICE: Adelaide, Collingwood, Geelong, Gold Coast, Sydney Swans

BYE: Round 13

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Essendon (a), Adelaide (h), Gold Coast (a), Geelong (h)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Richmond (a), North Melbourne (h), Carlton (a), Western Bulldogs (h)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Eight

THEY SAY: "Overall we are happy with the 2017 fixture and believe it is a strong draw for our fans and members," Hawks chief executive Stuart Fox said. "We have drawn some terrific home games at the MCG, with big match-ups against Geelong, Collingwood and Sydney that are certain to attract big crowds. Additionally, we are scheduled to play fellow 2016 finalists, Adelaide Crows and West Coast Eagles on our home turf at the MCG. Add five away games at the MCG against Essendon, Melbourne, Collingwood, Geelong and Richmond and we have eleven blockbuster matches for our Victorian members and fans."

WE SAY: The Hawks will be rapt with their dream start to the year, and play just four 2016 finals teams in the first 12 games before the bye. Former champions Sam Mitchell (West Coast – round five) and Jordan Lewis (Melbourne – round seven) will face their old teammates early in the season, while Hawks skipper Luke Hodge will play game 300 against Collingwood in round 15 if he plays every match. - Adam Curley

PROS: Melbourne has a golden opportunity to get off to a hot start with its first seven games scheduled in Victoria. The Demons then round out their season with three matches in a row at the MCG between rounds 21 and 23. A home Friday night match against the Sydney Swans in round 15 is another major positive.

CONS: Melbourne has eight six-day breaks (the equal-most in the competition), which includes two after travel and two lots of back-to-back six-day breaks.

PLAY TWICE: Adelaide, North Melbourne, St Kilda, Collingwood, Carlton

BYE: Round 11

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: St Kilda (a), Carlton (h), Geelong (a), Fremantle (h)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Greater Western Sydney (a), St Kilda (h), Brisbane Lions (h), Collingwood (a)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Eight

THEY SAY: "We hoped for a long time that we would play all of our Victorian home games at the MCG. The MCG is our home and a really significant part of our club and we are pleased that our Victorian home games will be played at the the ground," Melbourne chief executive Peter Jackson said.

WE SAY: The Demons have one of the most friendly fixtures out of any side in the AFL. Their seven home games inside Victoria to start the season is a significant advantage. Three matches at the MCG at the end of the season could also set Melbourne up for a run at the finals if the club's projected upward trend continues. - Ben Guthrie 

 

PROS: Only play one top-six team twice but it's the defending premiers and North also has the emerging St Kilda and Melbourne twice. The Kangaroos only have four six-day breaks, which is a bonus when you consider the impact of short breaks on the club's 2016 season. Get their wish to host a match on Good Friday.

CONS: A tough opening for the Kangaroos, playing four top eight sides (and three top-four sides) from 2016 in the opening month and a final round in Brisbane at the Gabba.

PLAY TWICE: 
Western Bulldogs, St Kilda, Melbourne, Fremantle, Gold Coast

BYE: Round 12

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: West Coast (h), Geelong (h), GWS Giants (a), Western Bulldogs (h)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Collingwood (h), Hawthorn (a), St Kilda (a), Brisbane Lions (a)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Four

THEY SAY: "We're absolutely thrilled by the announcement," CEO Carl Dilena said of the Good Friday match confirmation. "It's a tribute to this club's track record of innovation and a credit to all the great North people like Bob Ansett, Ron Casey and Greg Miller, who initially proposed this game in the late 80s and early 90s. While we have a game to win, there's also going to be a lot of cohesion between the clubs and the AFL as we work with the Good Friday Appeal organisers and Channel 7 to ensure there's a good synergy between the two major events. There are a lot of great things we can do together to achieve some great outcomes and we will sit down in due course to discuss those with all the key stakeholders. We've always had a great relationship with the Royal Children's Hospital, as virtual neighbours, and look forward to helping make this day even greater."

WE SAY: A tough opening month for the Kangaroos, making it unlikely the 9-0 start to the 2016 season will be replicated. An interesting, and potentially controversial, clash looms for Tasmanians in round 21 when the Kangaroos play Hawthorn in Launceston as North Melbourne tries to establish itself in Hobart. - Peter Ryan 

PROS: The Power have the chance to build momentum into the finals with four of their last five games at Adelaide Oval.

CONS: Only two games at the MCG and four in Victoria in total.

PLAY TWICE: Adelaide, Brisbane Lions, West Coast, Gold Coast, Collingwood

BYE: Round nine

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Sydney Swans (a), Fremantle (h), Adelaide (h), Greater Western Sydney (a)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Adelaide (a), Collingwood (h), Western Bulldogs (a), Gold Coast (h)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Three

THEY SAY: "We are delighted to be playing the majority of our eleven home games at night. It is easier for our people to attend games in the late afternoon or evening so we believe these timeslots will again resonate positively with our community. As well as taking AFL to Shanghai, Port Adelaide will also play in every mainland state across Australia," Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas said. 

WE SAY: Fitting in the historic game in China was always going to be a logistical challenge, but an eight-day break before the game and a bye after is the best possible result. The Power also only has three six-day breaks and never travel in consecutive weeks. On the downside, they only have one Friday night game, but that is their Anzac Round game in round six. Having four of their last five games at Adelaide Oval will be a positive providing they are in the hunt for the finals. - Lee Gaskin

 

PROS: Richmond has three winnable games to open its season against Carlton, Collingwood and West Coast in games staged at the MCG. It then has a trip to the Gabba to face an inexperienced Brisbane Lions side, giving the Tigers motivation to start their season with a rush.

CONS: The Tigers are one of four clubs not to receive a game in the highly sought after Friday night timeslot, while 12 of their games will not be broadcast on free to air TV.

PLAY TWICE: Greater Western Sydney, St Kilda, Carlton, Fremantle, Brisbane Lions 


BYE: Round 12

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Carlton (a), Collingwood (h), West Coast (h), Brisbane Lions (a)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Hawthorn (h), Geelong (a), Fremantle (a), St Kilda (h)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Six

THEY SAY: "Naturally we are disappointed not to get one Friday night game next season. We are a big club with the third biggest membership in the League, and our games always rate well in that timeslot. Equally, we understand the need to reward some of the better performed sides from last season," Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale said.

WE SAY: Richmond is being made to pay for a disappointing 2016 with no Friday night games in its schedule. That will hurt the club's bottom line immensely. The Tigers also have to navigate a tricky end to their season, with Hawthorn, Geelong, Fremantle (away) and St Kilda posing a few challenges. - Ben Guthrie

PROS: The Saints have 14 games at their home base of Etihad Stadium, including 12 of their first 16 games at the venue. In a nod to the Saints' improved form in 2016, they have also been handed four marquee games on Friday night after none in 2016.

CONS: After turning in a number of poor performances away from home in 2016, the Saints will have to make six interstate trips – including two visits to South Australia and Western Australia – next season.

PLAY TWICE: Melbourne, West Coast, North Melbourne, Richmond, Sydney Swans

BYE: Round 11

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Melbourne (h), West Coast (a), Brisbane Lions (h), Collingwood (a)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: West Coast (h), Melbourne (a), North Melbourne (h), Richmond (a)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Four

THEY SAY: "We're particularly pleased to have secured four Friday night matches, which is a reflection of the exciting brand of football our team played in 2016," Saints chief executive Matt Finnis.

WE SAY: The four Friday night games St Kilda has been handed points to the club's increased relevancy. With six interstate games scheduled, the Saints will have to drastically improve their record on the road after a concerning 54.3-point average losing margin away from home in 2016. - Ben Guthrie

Twelve of the Saints' first 16 games are at their Etihad Stadium base. Picture: AFL Photos

PROS: One trip each to Perth and Adelaide, with the rest of the Swans' games to be played in Sydney and Melbourne. Play four of last season's finalists in the first 10 rounds so should be well placed for their bye in round 11.

CONS: The Swans will be tested by seven six-day breaks during the year, and face premiership fancies Greater Western Sydney and the Western Bulldogs twice.

PLAY TWICE: Carlton, Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs

BYE: Round 11

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Port Adelaide (h), Western Bulldogs (a), Collingwood (h), West Coast (a)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Geelong (a), Fremantle (h), Adelaide (a), Carlton (h)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Seven

THEY SAY: "With so many big matches at home and away, including eight Victorian matches, the 2017 fixture is a real win for Swans members, supporters and corporate partners," Swans chief executive Andrew Ireland said. "While these big games are a great result for spectators, from a football perspective the draw always provides plenty of challenges and next season will certainly be no different. The club is proud to again host a celebration of Indigenous culture when we play Hawthorn for Marn Grook at the SCG as part of Sir Doug Nicholls Round."

WE SAY: The Swans got their wish for marquee games at home with three huge Friday nights, and one Thursday night fixture at the SCG, against Collingwood, Hawthorn, Essendon, and the Western Bulldogs, with all four likely sellouts. They get four games at the MCG and eight games in Melbourne in total, which will please their Victorian following. They also kick off Indigenous Round against Hawthorn in round 10. - Adam Curley

PROS: Only two repeat games against teams from the top eight in 2016 sets up the Eagles for a high finish.

CONS: Five-day break leading into the Easter Thursday game at home against the Sydney Swans after playing Richmond in Melbourne on Saturday will be tough, but West Coast is confident it can cope. 

PLAY TWICE: 
Western Bulldogs, Greater Western Sydney, St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Fremantle 

BYE: Round 12

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: North Melbourne (a), St Kilda (h), Richmond (h), Sydney Swans (h)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: St Kilda (a), Carlton (h), GWS Giants (a), Adelaide (h) 

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Five

THEY SAY: "We're very pleased in our draw for 2017 and feel our members and supporters have plenty to be excited about," CEO Trevor Nisbett said. "We get the chance to play on the national stage on two Thursday nights and a Friday night, all at home, and overall our home games are very fan-friendly. To play fellow finalists Western Bulldogs, Sydney, Geelong, Greater Western Sydney and Adelaide at home is fantastic. The Carlton Draught Derbies are always key dates in the calendar and we're excited to host the opening derby in round six. We're very proud to be hosting both Sir Doug Nicholls Round and Multicultural Round at Domain Stadium, where we can pay tribute to the great contribution to the game from Indigenous and multicultural Australians alike. The chance to play in front of our Victorian members and supporters, our strongest band of outside of WA, seven times in 2017 is also a fantastic result."

WE SAY: The Eagles have an even start to the season and on paper have a good draw, however games against Fremantle are always tough to win. The stretch between rounds four and eight will shape their season, with games against the Sydney Swans, Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs among tricky encounters away to Port Adelaide and at home against Fremantle. - Peter Ryan 

PROS: Seven Friday night games and one Thursday night fixture gives the premiers more exposure, and another big season will certainly help them capitalise.

CONS: Play four of last year's finals teams twice, fly to Perth twice in their first eight games, and will have eight six-day breaks to deal with throughout the year.

PLAY TWICE: Brisbane Lions, Greater Western Sydney, North Melbourne, Sydney Swans, West Coast

BYE: Round 11

FIRST FOUR WEEKS: Collingwood (a), Sydney Swans (h), Fremantle (a), North Melbourne (a)

LAST FOUR WEEKS: Brisbane Lions (a), Greater Western Sydney (h), Port Adelaide (h), Hawthorn (a)

SIX-DAY BREAKS: Eight

THEY SAY: "There are many positives in the 2017 fixture particularly for our fans, members and sponsors with the additional Friday night games and the opportunities for greater exposure to a broader audience during the home and away season for our football team,” Bulldogs chief executive Gary Kent said. "In 2017 we will play in Ballarat, we return to Cairns for the fourth consecutive year, feature on Good Friday and will play in more Friday night games in a season (seven), than we have previously. We believe it provides our members and fans with some attractive games to attend, and also some great exposure for our sponsors in those prime time slots."

WE SAY: A return to primetime footy is a huge vote of confidence for the Dogs, especially given they'll pioneer the first ever game on Good Friday with the Kangaroos. A double road trip to Domain Stadium early in the season will be a tester, but four of their last five games are in Victoria. Former Magpie Travis Cloke meets Collingwood in a Friday night MCG clash in round one. - Adam Curley