The AFL has today confirmed the fixture for Opening Round – a slate of four matches set to kick off the 2024 Toyota AFL Premiership Season in Queensland and New South Wales.
Beginning on Thursday 7 March, the four games for premiership points in the Opening Round will be played the week before a traditional Round 1.
Gold Coast, under Damien Hardwick, will take on the SUNS Senior Coach’s former club Richmond on Saturday afternoon, March 9, at Heritage Bank Stadium.
GC SUNS Chief Executive Mark Evans said the club was thrilled to begin its season with a marquee match.
“Our Opening Round match is set to be a blockbuster on the Gold Coast with the Tigers coming to town,” Evans said.
“It’s fantastic for our members and supporters to have the opportunity to witness the new-look Gold Coast SUNS in the first match of the season at home.
“We have had some thrilling battles with Richmond over the years, none more memorable than Noah Anderson’s goal after the siren in 2022, so we are expecting this is a match fans will be eager to attend at Heritage Bank Stadium.”
Opening Round will get underway on Thursday night when the Sydney Swans host Melbourne at the SCG, before heading north to the Gabba on Friday night, March 8, for a re-match of the 2023 Preliminary Final between the Brisbane Lions and Carlton.
Another Preliminary Final re-match between the GWS GIANTS, and reigning Premiers, Collingwood, concludes the Round at GIANTS Stadium on Saturday night.
Round 1 will then begin the following week with the Carlton vs Richmond fixture at the MCG on Thursday 14 March and consist of a full round of nine matches.
The eight teams that play in the Opening Round will then have a bye between Rounds 2 and 6, with all 18 teams in the competition having played the same number of games by the beginning of Round 7.
AFL Chief Executive Andrew Dillon said the AFL was presented with a unique opportunity to feature four matches ahead of the traditional start to the season.
“We were fortunate to be in a position where we were able to have access to our major venues in Queensland and New South Wales a weekend earlier than usual which gave us a unique opportunity to play these four games in key markets where footy continues to grow in popularity,” said Mr Dillon.
“The four match-ups are big, with four of our biggest supported Victorian clubs travelling north, and we look forward to starting our season with real momentum before we head into a blockbuster round of matches in Round 1.
“We continue to find opportunities to build marquee games and events across the season, with recent examples being King’s Birthday Eve, ANZAC Day Eve and Gather Round and our four matches in the Opening Round build on this approach.
“Given this weekend also falls on the Labour Day long weekend in Victoria it presents a terrific opportunity for fans to travel north to support their club and enjoy an extended interstate break.
“We are driven to have footy in every home around the country, whether that be playing, coaching, umpiring, supporting or volunteering and starting the season across Queensland and NSW will only amplify this desire.
“There’s a lot of people behind the scenes who helped bring this concept to life and I would like to thank our venues and the clubs for sharing in our Opening Round vision.”
The full 2024 Toyota AFL Premiership Season fixture will be released on Thursday 16 November.
More information on ticket sales and member access will be confirmed in due course.
Saturday March 9
Gold Coast SUNS v Richmond
Heritage Bank Stadium