The Gold Coast SUNS will play Hawthorn at TIO Stadium, Darwin in Round 11 of the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season as part of Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

Ahead of the official AFL Fixture announcement due later this week, the AFL has also confirmed the club will play a second home game the following week at TIO after it was unable to play in the Northern Territory last season, with details on that fixture still to be confirmed.

After the disappointment of having the fixture relocated at the final hour in 2021, GC SUNS Chief Executive Mark Evans said Territorians could get excited for football to return in 2022.

“It’s great that as a football club we’ll be able to get back to the Northern Territory in 2022 and play not one but two fixtures at TIO Stadium after Territorians missed out last year,” Evans said.

“The partnership with Darwin is a really significant one for the football club from a talent development pathway point of view, but also commercially and unfortunately we were unable to host a game at TIO stadium in 2021.

“We’ve already seen the likes of Joel Jeffrey, Malcolm Rosas Jnr, Sandy Brock, Janet Baird and Ashanti Bush come through our development pathway, but the annual fixture provides the opportunity to inspire that next generation of talented footballers from the region.”

Back to back fixtures will provide the perfect opportunity to create a real festival of football in the city.

“The playing squad will remain in Darwin in-between each fixture in an effort to create a real festival of AFL football within the community over the two weekends.

“Playing against Hawthorn then another game the following weekend will provide a great opportunity for fans to travel to the region and experience everything Darwin has to offer.” 

Newly appointed Head of AFL Northern Territory Sam Gibson said the Territory could look forward to a festival of football in the region in 2022.

“After an unfortunate year of no AFL footy in the Territory last year, we are excited to welcome back the Gold Coast SUNS in 2022 to ensure Territory footy fans have the opportunity to watch elite games live in their backyard.

“We thank the Northern Territory Government and the AFL for working together to put this fixture together and we also extend our gratitude to Channel 7, who will showcase free-to-air another aspect of our incredible Territory to a national audience.

“Territorians have multiple AFL blockbuster games next year to look forward to and we hope they will get amongst it, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy!”

The fixtures provided the perfect opportunity for locals to enjoy the football but also for interstate visitors to travel to the Territory.

 “The Territory loves footy and, with three Premiership games on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to catch elite football right here in the NT,” Minister for Major Events Natasha Fyles.

“The games are also the perfect excuse for interstate fans to head to the Territory, where they can not only support their team, but also enjoy all the unique tourism experiences we have to offer.

“Two Darwin games in quick succession for the SUNS also means the players will be in town for much longer than usual, and gives their travelling fans more reasons to prolong their Territory holiday in order to catch both games.”

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