As the AFL continues to manoeuvre through the off-season, anticipation builds towards the fixture release for 2022.
Supporters pray for a winnable game and fans hope for an opening round of must-see clashes to quench their football thirst. Heightening this anticipation is the likelihood that Australia will be fully open by the time the 2022 season begins, thanks to the increased vaccination rates nationwide.
While some footy fans had a small taste of the action this season, many were relegated to watching their sides on screens instead of at stadiums. Case in point, the Demons claimed the 2021 premiership in Perth while the majority of their supporters were locked down in Victoria.
In order for the AFL to not fall victim to their own hype for 2022, they must slate some massive clashes to kick off the season and reward those attending games with matchups worth their money.
It’s likely that the season will begin with a Thursday night clash between the Blues and Tigers, which looks to be a close encounter as an early prediction. But for Friday night footy the league should schedule two big guns to go head-to-head, and there's none better choice than rekindling tradition and having the Dees and Dogs feature in a Grand Final rematch.
While we’re fantasy booking here, throw in a battle between two Premiership contenders to get some losses on the board early and add in a cross-town rivalry game too make for the perfect returning weekend.
Should the league slate the Hawks and Pies in the opening round, fans will be treated to a coaching dual between Sam Mitchell and Craig McCrae in the opening round and their respective debut matches in the hot-seat.
As footy returns in the new year, hopefully to all states, one can’t help but cross their fingers that the first week of the 2022 season was worth the wait
Without further adieu, here is the predicted Round 1 fixture for the 2022 AFL season (based on desired and likely matchups).
Round 1, 2022 predictions
Thursday, March 17
Friday, March 18
Saturday, March 19
Sunday, March 20