The AFL have announced a bye following Round 22 next year. The final minor round was shrouded in controversy this year, with the Kangaroos resting several players to virtually assure itself of finishing eighth, avoiding the prospect of a trip to Adelaide for the first week of finals.
“The AFL has introduced a bye week before the finals so that those clubs playing in September can have the best possible lead-in and preparation for the most important matches of our season,” said AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan.
The Dockers have a history of resting players before finals. In 2010 they rested eight players for a round 22 match against Hawthorn and were beaten by 116, while in 2013 they also rested 11 players in a final-round fixture.
The AFL is yet to decide how it will use the gap weekend, but there are suggestions the Brownlow Medal could be moved forward.
The Grand Final will again be a week later than normal, this time to be played on October 1, with the AFL seemingly abandoning the last-Saturday-in-September tradition.
Port and the Crows will face off in a Showdown in the season’s penultimate round, before Adelaide hosts West Coast at home and the Power face the Gold Coast in the Sunshine State.
The Crows first home game will see them host the Power in Round 2.
The club’s reigning best and fairest Patrick Dangerfield, who quit for Geelong at season’s end, will return to Adelaide Oval to play his former teammates in Round 8.
Adelaide CEO Andrew Fagan says the club’s “key requests have been met”.
“We play quality opposition across a mix of time slots, which I’m confident will be well supported by Crows members and supporters,” he said.
“The team has been recognised for their exciting footy last year with 12 night games across the season.
“We are also excited to kick off the Anzac Day Round against defending premiers Hawthorn on the national stage at the ‘G on a Friday night…and from an on-field perspective, we are also pleased to be playing more games in Melbourne, including three at the MCG.”
The AFL season will begin as normal with the traditional Richmond-Carlton clash at the MCG on Thursday, March 24.
See the full 2016 fixture here.
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