Bailey Smith and Christian Salem in action during the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final at Optus Stadium on September 25, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

MELBOURNE and the Western Bulldogs will face off in a Grand Final rematch to launch the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, meeting in a Wednesday night blockbuster at the MCG.

In a change to the familiar season opener, the premiers will host the Bulldogs on March 16 before Carlton hosts Richmond in their usual Thursday night timeslot at the MCG.

It is the first time since 2014 that the Tigers and Blues will not kick off the season, with the Demons given the honour of unfurling their premiership flag in grand style after winning the 2021 decider in Perth.


The Demons requested the change after their Melbourne-based members missed out on the experience of celebrating the club's first premiership in 57 years in person at the MCG.


There will be five matches played in Melbourne in round one, including four at the MCG.

St Kilda will host Collingwood on Friday night, with father-son draftee Nick Daicos and new Magpies coach Craig McRae set to combine against the Saints, who will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2021.

Collingwood coach Craig McRae speaks with media during a training session on November 22, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong and Essendon will clash on Saturday afternoon in another mouth-watering MCG match-up following two seasons of limited crowds at the venue.

On Saturday night, Greater Western Sydney will host crosstown rival Sydney at Accor Stadium rather than their own home ground.  

The Swans will be anticipating Lance Franklin's 1000th goal, with the champion forward entering the new season on 995 majors.

It is the first time the rivals have met at the Sydney Olympic venue since the 2016 qualifying final, when they drew a crowd of 60,222.

Lance Franklin celebrates a goal against the Giants during the elimination final at the University of Tasmania Stadium on August 28, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Brisbane will host Port Adelaide at the Gabba on Saturday night, pitting two top-four teams from last season and expected premiership contenders against each other.

Football returns once more to the MCG on the Sunday of round one as new coach Sam Mitchell leads Hawthorn against North Melbourne, which could unveil No.1 pick in the 2021 NAB AFL Draft, Jason Horne-Francis.

Adelaide then hosts Fremantle at Adelaide Oval, before West Coast launches its season and closes the round against Gold Coast at 4.40pm AWST.    


Wednesday, March 16
Melbourne v Western Bulldogs, MCG, 7.10pm AEDT, Seven

Thursday, March 17
Carlton v Richmond, MCG, 7.25pm AEDT, Seven

Friday, March 18
St Kilda v Collingwood, Marvel Stadium, 7.50pm AEDT, Seven

Saturday, March 19
Geelong v Essendon, MCG, 2.10pm AEDT, Fox
Greater Western Sydney v Sydney, Accor Stadium, 5.10pm AEDT, Fox
Brisbane v Port Adelaide, Gabba, 7.10pm AEST, Seven

Sunday, March 20
Hawthorn v North Melbourne, MCG, 1.10pm AEDT, Fox
Adelaide v Fremantle, Adelaide Oval, 3.40pm ACDT, Fox
West Coast v Gold Coast, Optus Stadium, 4.40pm AWST, Fox