Traditional contests and exposure for academy talent headline the 2017 North East Australian Football League fixture.
The new season kicks off on April 1 with an opening round of matches spread right across the northern states in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, southern NSW and Darwin.
The impressive new South Pine Sports Complex (SPSC) facilities – located in Brendale on the north side of Brisbane – will host regular NEAFL matches in 2017, beginning in Round 1 between Brisbane and Sydney.
The 2017 draw will see the first ever Friday night match in Darwin in a Round 5 blockbuster between NT Thunder and the Sydney Swans at TIO Stadium.
The competition has retained its traditional showpiece contests – with the annual ANZAC Day clash between Redland and NT Thunder (Rd 4), Sydney University and Sydney Swans’ Friday night clash at the SCG (Rd 13), and the Giants hosting Canberra in Wagga (Rd 19) – all returning for another season.
Other features include an additional regional match in Newcastle (Sydney v Gold Coast in Round 9) and 19 AFL curtain raisers – with the possibility of more when AFL venues are confirmed closer to the start of the season.
Adding to the excitement of the 2017 season will be three double headers at SPSC (Rd 3), and Blacktown International Sportspark (Rd 2 and Rd 7).
Six northern AFL Academy Under-18 Series matches will also be aligned to NEAFL fixtures in the opening rounds of 2017.
The first academy matches start in Round 1 at SPSC between Brisbane Lions Academy and Tasmania U18s, with the NT U18s hosting Sydney Swans Academy at TIO Stadium.
Representative football will return in 2017 when the NEAFL plays the Tasmanian State League in Hobart on June 10.
AFL State League and International Manager, Simon Laughton, said the fixture aims to build on the NEAFL’s growing tradition whilst also facilitating the growth of the game in the northern states.
“We are pleased the 2017 NEAFL fixture will increase our fans’ football experience with three double headers, and the retention of some of our most popular games during the season,” he said.
“It is an exciting time for the competition with the added alignment of the AFL Academy Series, which will showcase the next generation coming through as the NEAFL continues to grow in standard each year.
“We are confident the 2017 fixture will allow for another competitive season, coming off a thrilling Grand Final between the Giants and Sydney at Blacktown International Sportspark.”
The NEAFL will retain a three-week finals series featuring the top six teams. The season will commence on April 1 and teams will play 18 games over 21 weeks.
Each team will have three byes, with the Grand Final to be held on September 10 or 11.
2017 NEAFL season highlights:
· Two regional matches in Newcastle and Wagga
· First Friday night match in Darwin
· First matches at new South Pine Sports Complex facilities
· 19 confirmed AFL curtain raisers
· Three double-header weekends
· Six aligned AFL Academy Under-18 Series matches
· NEAFL representative match v TSL in Round 11
To view the fixture, please CLICK HERE