The AFL is reportedly weighing up a major change to open the 2022 AFL season, with a Wednesday night grand final rematch flagged as a potential season opener for next year.
Carlton and Richmond have clashed in the opening match of the past seven seasons, and while the showcase rivalry is seen as a strong chance to hold its place on the Thursday night, it could be preceded by a Wednesday night game between 2021 grand finalists Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.
According to The Age, league sources have confirmed the grand final rematch is likely to take place in Round 1 next year, whether that be to open the season on a Wednesday or during another prime time slot that week.
The match would see the Demons unveil their 2021 premiership flag in front of a packed MCG before two of the competition's best clubs go head-to-head to open the new campaign.
Alternatively, the Tigers and Blues could hold their traditional placing to compete in the AFL's season opener on the Thursday night, however that fixture has drawn ongoing criticism in recent years.
Having Carlton and Richmond host the season opener has, and will, produce strong crowd numbers to kickstart the season despite how each side is perceived to perform.
The Blues have lost their past 11 matches against the Tigers, dating back to 2014, however the Princes Park club are touted as a strong premiership threat in 2022.
Carlton's first match of next year will also be Michael Voss' debut game as senior coach of the Blues, while recruits Adam Cerra, George Hewett and Lewis Young will be sure to buoy their new club's chances of snapping their extensive losing streak to Richmond.
The AFL are tipped to release the 2022 fixture next week, with ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 virus having caused some delay in their planning.
The AFLW fixture is set to be released at 1pm AEDT on Thursday, just over a month ahead of Round 1.