Fremantle and West Coast will open next season with a historic “Twenty20” pre-season Western Derby.

The AFL has confirmed the Eagles and Dockers will be placed in the same group of three teams to play each other in round-robin matches of two 20-minute halves at Subiaco Oval in February.

In the 2011 pre-season competition, 18 teams will be divided into six groups of three, playing each other in shortened matches similar to cricket’s popular T20 format.

The foray into short-form football is likely to be popular with fans and television viewers, with each group being played at the same ground on the same day.

The third team to make up the Subiaco group will likely come from Victoria, so fans will be able to watch West Coast v the travelling team, Fremantle v the visitors and the derby for the one ticket price.

Clubs can pick different teams for each match, so fans will get an early chance to view most of the list in action.

West Coast coaches John Worsfold and his Dockers’ counterpart Mark Harvey will likely use the 40-minute matches to expose new draft picks and rookie-listed players to AFL-standard football.

The winner of each group, along with the next two best-performed teams overall, will advance to the quarter-finals.

Those eight teams will then play four-quarter knockout games under normal pre-season conditions over the next three weeks to decide the winner.

The round-robin T20 games are likely to be played over 20 minute halves with no time-on and with a five-minute, half-time break. There will only be a 10-minute break between matches, meaning fans can watch three matches in less than three hours.

The 18th team in the competition will be Kevin Sheedy’s embryonic Greater Western Sydney outfit, with a group of youngsters likely to be topped up with mature players from the NSW/ACT league.

Team GWS is likely to host a group based in Blacktown also involving the Swans and maybe Collingwood as a promotional opportunity.

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