Former Brisbane Lions player Pearce Hanley, now with the Suns, will face his old club in round one.
Former Brisbane Lions player Pearce Hanley, now with the Suns, will face his old club in round one. JULIAN SMITH

QClash scheduled for opening round

AFL: Star Gold Coast recruit Pearce Hanley won't have to wait long to take on his old club, the Brisbane Lions.

The first QClash of the 2017 season has been pencilled in for the opening round, on the night of Saturday, March 25, at Metricon Stadium.

Pearce played 129 games for the Lions, and so far has been involved in 11 of a possible 12 games between the two Queensland outfits, with only Tom Rockliff (310) having gathered more disposals than his 298.

The AFL released the first-round draw yesterday with Carlton and Richmond to again kick off the season on a Thursday night.

But, in a shape of things to come, the reigning premiers, the Bulldogs, will take centre stage on the Friday night against Collingwood.

The Bulldogs have featured in the prime spot on just five occasions in the past four years - and not at all in 2013 or 2014 - but with their entertaining brand of play will be one of the main drawcards of 2017 during their title defence.

Adding to the spice, their attack in round one could include veteran recruit Travis Cloke shaping up against his old team, Collingwood.

The Bulldogs were also expected to be involved with North Melbourne in the first ever Good Friday game.

Essendon will welcome back the bulk of its suspended stars, including Dyson Heppell and Michael Hurley, for what shapes as a blockbuster Saturday night fixture against Hawthorn at the MCG.

The Hawks could unveil prized signings Jaeger O'Meara, who knocked back an approach by the Bombers, Tom Mitchell and Tyrone Vickery, as they begin life without four-time premiership heroes Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis.

Rising forces St Kilda and Melbourne, loaded up with youth and established recruits, will meet on the Sunday, before a revamped Fremantle, with injured superstar Nat Fyfe to return, to complete the round by hosting Geelong.

The remainder of the 2017 season fixtures will be released on Thursday.


Thursday, March 23: Carlton v Richmond, MCG.

Friday, March 24: Collingwood v Bulldogs, MCG.

Saturday, March 25: Sydney v Port Adelaide, SCG; North Melbourne v West Coast, Etihad Stadium; Gold Coast v Brisbane, Metricon Stadium; Essendon v Hawthorn, MCG.

Sunday, March 26: Adelaide v GWS, Adelaide Oval; St Kilda v Melbourne, Etihad Stadium; Fremantle v Geelong, Domain Stadium.