The AFL fixture is also a lot more fan friendly in 2015 with the return of Saturday afternoon football as a priority and the removal of less popular timeslots such as Sunday night and Monday night.
The opening round of the AFL season will begin later than normal, which means the Grand Final will also be pushed back to October 3. Round 1 of the AFL fixture will take place over the Easter long weekend with matches bookending the Round on Thursday April 2 and Easter Monday, April 6.
Despite the AFL giving the green light for Good Friday football in the future, the 2015 AFL fixture does not feature a match on the public holiday.
A major early season highlight is the meeting between Collingwood and former midfielder Dayne Beams, who requested to be traded to the Brisbane Lions post-season. The Pies will go north to the Gabba to play the Lions, who now boast improved midfield strength thanks to Beams. Their Round 1 showdown on April 4 has the potential to be spiteful and physical.
The Pies will also be out to get one back on another former employee when they head to Metricon Stadium on May 23. Collingwood will play the Gold Coast SUNS, who have recently appointed Rodney Eade as head coach. Eade has worked at Collingwood in various football department roles over the past few years, but will take the helm at the Gold Coast SUNS next season.
The AFL fixture is packed with blockbusters and they don’t get much bigger than the local derbies. The Western Australian derby is always a must-watch. West Coast and Fremantle will battle it out at Patersons Stadium twice in 2015; in Round 3 on April 19 and Round 20 on August 16.
The Q Clash encounters are sure to be blockbusters in 2015 given the SUNS are on the move up the ladder and the Brisbane Lions have boosted their list significantly. The SUNS will host the Lions at Metricon Stadium in Round 5 on May 2 before heading to the Gabba on August 8 for a the Round 19 return match.
Local Geelong fans can see their side at Simonds Stadium eight times including a Saturday night blockbuster against Sydney on August 8.
As well as the traditional match between Collingwood and Essendon, Anzac Day will have four further matches including one in New Zealand between St Kilda and Carlton.
The Western Bulldogs will host two ‘grudge matches’ at Etihad Stadium. The AFL fixture has them taking on the GWS Giants on Saturday May 30. The match is significant due to the post-season trade that saw Doggies captain Ryan Griffen land at the Giants, while promising young forward Tom Boyd signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Dogs. The Western Bulldogs will face another former champion when they play Essendon – who recruited Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney from the Bulldogs – at Etihad Stadium on August 2.
Reigning premiers, Hawthorn, are scheduled to play four home matches at Aurora Stadium in Tasmania. The AFL fixture has them facing the Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast SUNS, Fremantle and the Brisbane Lions in Launceston.
Round 23 is scheduled as a ‘floating’ fixture once again with teams and venues set but dates and times to be decided in 2015.