MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 05: Lachie Neale of the Lions handballs whilst being tackled by Matthew Kennedy of the Blues during the round eight AFL match between Carlton Blues and Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium, on May 05, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The AFL has announced four matches for the 'Opening Round' of the 2024 AFL fixture, with two matches to be held in New South Wales and a further two to be played in Queensland to kickstart the new season.

The first match of next year will see Sydney host Melbourne at the SCG on Thursday, March 7, with former Demon Brodie Grundy to face his old side after heading north this recent trade period.

The following night will see a preliminary final rematch take place at the Gabba between Brisbane and Carlton, while the corresponding preliminary final from this year will also be replicated in the 'Opening Round' fixture on the Saturday night between GWS and Collingwood at GIANTS Stadium.

The fourth game will see Gold Coast host Richmond at Heritage Bank Stadium at 3:20pm on the Saturday afternoon, with former Tigers coach Damien Hardwick set to coach his first game with the Suns against his old side.

All other 10 clubs are scheduled for a bye for week one of the 2024 AFL season.

"We were fortunate to be in a position where we were able to have access to our major venues in Queensland and New South Wales a weekend earlier than usual which gave us a unique opportunity to play these four games in key markets where footy continues to grow in popularity,” AFL CEO Andrew Dillon said in an AFL statement.

“The four match-ups are big, with four of our biggest supported Victorian clubs travelling north, and we look forward to starting our season with real momentum before we head into a blockbuster round of matches in Round 1.

“We continue to find opportunities to build marquee games and events across the season, with recent examples being King's Birthday Eve, ANZAC Day Eve and Gather Round and our four matches in the Opening Round build on this approach.
“Given this weekend also falls on the Labour Day long weekend in Victoria it presents a terrific opportunity for fans to travel north to support their club and enjoy an extended interstate break.

“We are driven to have footy in every home around the country, whether that be playing, coaching, umpiring, supporting or volunteering and starting the season across Queensland and NSW will only amplify this desire.

“There's a lot of people behind the scenes who helped bring this concept to life and I would like to thank our venues and the clubs for sharing in our Opening Round vision.”

The full 2024 AFL fixture is set to be released on Thursday, November 16.

Opening Round 2024

Thursday, March 7

Sydney vs Melbourne
SCG, 7:20pm

Friday, March 8

Brisbane vs Carlton
The Gabba, 6:50pm

Saturday, March 9

Gold Coast vs Richmond
Heritage Bank Stadium, 3:20pm

GWS vs Collingwood
GIANTS Stadium, 7:30pm

All times AEDT. 

Byes: Adelaide, Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St Kilda, West Coast, Western Bulldogs