Fremantle have been rewarded for their popularity and grand final appearance against Hawthorn with a high profile fixture that gives them enormous national exposure next season.
The Dockers will launch the season against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium on Friday March 14 and then play another three Friday night games and one Thursday night match throughout the season.
The second Friday night game is a grand final re-match against Hawthorn at the MCG in round three.
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Fremantle then play North Melbourne on Anzac Day as the third part of a triple header involving the traditional Essendon v Collingwood game at the MCG and St Kilda’s match in New Zealand.
The Dockers then tackle Carlton on a Thursday night in round 19.
Fremantle’s home draw is packed with games against high profile opposition. They will host matches against Essendon, Geelong, Hawthorn and West Coast along with the games against the Roos and Blues, giving their fans plenty of reasons to be excited.
But the fixture poses plenty of challenges for the team as they attempt to return to the grand final.
They play five 2013 finalists in the first nine weeks, plus games against the Dons, Roos and Eagles. They finish the season with four of their last five games against top eight teams.
The Dockers travel to Darwin to play Melbourne but have avoided trips to Launceston, Greater Western Sydney and the Gold Coast. Only two of their games are at the MCG.
Captain Matthew Pavlich’s 300th game in round nine is scheduled for round nine against Geelong in Perth.
Unlike last season when Fremantle rested half of their team in round 23 against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, the Dockers will play at Patersons Stadium against Port Adelaide in the final round.
West Coast’s slide to 13th has helped them receive a favourable draw under a new fixture system, but it comes with a sting in the tail.
Clubs were ranked 1-6, 7-12 and 13-18 and the draws were weighted to give the top teams a harder fixture.
Fremantle is the only top six team that West Coast play twice. The derbies will be played in rounds seven and 15.
Collingwood is the only club in the 7-12 bracket with a second match up against the Eagles.
West Coast play Gold Coast, St Kilda and Melbourne twice. But their second match up against the Suns is in round 23, giving the club a horrendous return flight if they make the finals.
The Eagles will play only one Friday night – against Richmond in round 18 – but they host North Melbourne in a Sunday night match on WA Day eve.
Ruckman Dean Cox’s club record breaking game is only four matches away. If he avoids injury and suspension, that will come against Geelong at Simonds Stadium
New coach Adam Simpson will lead the team against the club he captained, North Melbourne, in round 11 and the club he was as assistant coach for, Hawthorn, in round 12.
West Coast and Fremantle will play a NAB Challenge derby at Arena Joondalup on Tuesday February 18 as part of a revamped pre-season competition where 18 games will be played in 18 days.
That game will start at 4.10pm.
The Eagles will also play against Sydney in Blacktown on Thursday February 27 and the Dockers’ other pre-season game is at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday February 26.
In other key dates:
Geelong premiership star Paul Chapman and Cats premiership coach Mark Thompson will confront their former club for Essendon in round 15.
Hawthorn will meet Lance Franklin’s Sydney in rounds eight and 18.
Kurt Tippett will finally confront Adelaide in round three at Adelaide Oval.
Dale Thomas’ first match as a Carlton player against Collingwood will be in round seven while Heath Shaw will face off against the Magpies for GWS in round 22.
New Kangaroo Nick Dal Santo has to wait until round 17 to play against St Kilda.
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