Image: AFL.com.au

The AFL’s State of Origin match to support bushfire relief will go ahead.

As first reported by Channel Seven’s Tom Chadwick on Twitter, the once-off clash is set to be played on Friday February 28 at Marvel Stadium between Victoria and the All-Stars.

Richmond’s Damien Hardwick will coach Victoria and Sydney’s John Longmire will lead the All Stars and there will be a cap of three players per club.

League boss Gillon McLachlan confirmed the charity match at a press conference on Thursday, also revealing that the AFL has committed to a $2.5 million donation to the bushfire appeal in conjunction with the 18 clubs and AFL Players Association.

“Our industry is heartbroken by the devastation that the fires are causing around the country and our clubs and players have suggested a number of initiatives where we can support affected communities in the short and longer term as they deal with the aftermath of these fires,” he told AFL.com.au.

“A game of footy can’t change what has happened but it is a way for all of our clubs, our players and our fans to acknowledge the incredible sacrifice that so many have made in battling the fires and to support those communities that have been impacted by the bushfires.

“We know that those communities are suffering now but they are also going to need our support as they start to rebuild. Sport builds bonds within communities and we want people to know they have the support of the entire football industry and that we will be there to help them rebuild facilities and programs and ensure people continue to come together.

“The State of Origin game will help raise further funds to support that ongoing rebuild.

“I want to thank our players and clubs for their commitment to doing something substantial that raises money and clearly demonstrates the support to the local football communities of those areas impacted.

“Our clubs and our AFL and AFLW players are also working on a number of other initiatives to raise money and to support those communities in need and we will continue to work with them over the coming weeks and months to continue to coordinate our efforts.

“On behalf of the AFL community, I also want to thank firefighters, members of the have given up their time – and in some cases their lives – to protect others. We are grateful for what you have done for our community.”

The last State of Origin match was played at the MCG in 1999, with Victoria defeating South Australia by 54 points at the MCG in front of 26,063 people.

More recently the AFL staged the Hall of Fame Tribute Match as part of the game’s 150-year celebrations in 2018 that saw Victoria beat Dream Team by 17 points at the MCG, which drew a crowd of 69,294.