Blockbusters and a grudge match set for round one, 2015
PRIZED Brisbane Lions recruit Dayne Beams will enjoy an instant reunion with his former Collingwood teammates, with the Lions and the Magpies scheduled to meet at the Gabba in the opening round of next year.
The AFL has confirmed the opening round fixtures with Carlton and Richmond once again kicking off the new season at the MCG on Easter Thursday, April 2.
With the AFL choosing not to stage a Good Friday game, it will be the match-up between Beams and the Magpies on the Saturday night at the Gabba that will attract plenty of interest, with the resurgent Lions granted their wish of an early home blockbuster against a big Victorian club.
Beams returned to his home state during last week's trade period after 118 games for the Magpies, including the 2010 premiership and the 2012 Copeland Trophy.
The marquee match of the round will be at Patersons Stadium on the opening Sunday with a replay of this year's first semi-final between Fremantle and Port Adelaide. The Power stormed home to knock the Dockers out of the finals by 22 points in a major upset.
2014 strugglers Melbourne and St Kilda will both open with winnable home games against Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney, respectively.
Adelaide, under new coach Phil Walsh, will kick-start the Adelaide Oval season on the Sunday afternoon against North Melbourne.
James Hird's first game back as coach of Essendon will be at ANZ Stadium on the opening Saturday afternoon against the Sydney Swans. It remains to be seen how strong a side the Bombers will be able to field, depending on the outcome of the ASADA saga.
The Western Bulldogs and West Coast will play Etihad Stadium's first game for the season on the Saturday night.
Hawthorn is likely to unfurl its 2014 premiership flag with the now traditional Easter Monday clash against Geelong at the MCG in what will be the last game of the round.
The AFL will unveil the complete fixture for 2015 on Thursday October 30.
2015 First Round
Thursday April 2, 2015
Carlton v Richmond
Saturday April 3, 2015
Melbourne v Gold Coast
Sydney Swans v Essendon
Brisbane Lions v Collingwood
Western Bulldogs v West Coast
Sunday April 4, 2015
St Kilda v Greater Western Sydney
Adelaide v North Melbourne
Fremantle v Port Adelaide