Lions first up for Freo
Fremantle face the longest trip in football and a showdown with Brendan Fevola to kick off their assault on the 2011 premiership.
And West Coast have been denied the chance to mark their 25th season in the AFL by playing Richmond, their first opponents when they debuted in 1987. The Eagles host North Melbourne at Patersons Stadium instead on Sunday, March 27.
The AFL will release the 2011 fixtures on Friday.
Fremantle play Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday, March 26, when Fevola and fellow power forward Jonathan Brown should be raring to go coming off injury-ravaged seasons as the Lions set about redeeming themselves for a dismal 2010 when they finished 13th.
It shapes as a searching test for a Fremantle defence that coped without Chris Tarrant for the second half of 2010, but had both Tarrant and Luke McPharlin available and in form when closing down Brown and Fevola to break a 15-year drought at the Gabba this year.
Brown kicked just one goal, while Fevola booted three as Fremantle survived a late Brisbane surge to win by 13 points in round seven.
It is the third year in a row a WA team has been sent to Brisbane to start the season, with the Eagles playing the Lions in the past two seasons.
The Eagles wanted to play Richmond, the side they beat in their first match in the expanded VFL in 1987, but the Tigers will start the season against traditional rivals Carlton, a match that has been in place for the past four seasons.
After the clash in round one with the Kangaroos, the Eagles head to AAMI Stadium to play Port Adelaide in round two.
It is likely that the Blues and Tigers will launch the season at the MCG, with the rest of the round tipped to be St Kilda v Geelong, Collingwood v Port Adelaide, Adelaide v Hawthorn, Sydney v Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs v Essendon.
New team Gold Coast have a first-up bye before playing Carlton at the Gabba in round two on April 2.
Both WA teams have supported the NAB Cup fixtures released yesterday after being grouped with Hawthorn in a three-club round-robin at Patersons Stadium on February 13 in a bid for quarterfinal berths.
In the new format, each side will play two games of two 20-minute halves. The eight quarterfinalists will come from the six three-team play-offs, with the two best-performed runners-up awarded wildcards. The other 10 sides are consigned to the NAB Challenge.
Frontier teams Gold Coast, GWS and Sydney have been grouped together at Blacktown on February 19. Coaching twins Chris and Brad Scott will confront each other in the Geelong, North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs match-up at Skilled Stadium on February 20 and Carlton, Collingwood and Richmond will play a Melbourne pre-season tri-series at Etihad Stadium on February 12.
Both West Coast and Fremantle wanted their round-robin section of the NAB Cup played in Perth.
“It is a new and innovative format and will provide a unique challenge for our coaching staff to manage the players’ game time over two matches on the same day,” Dockers CEO Steve Rosich said.
West Coast’s Trevor Nisbett said the concept offered something different for fans.
“We’ve already received positive feedback from some of our supporters who are excited about getting to see us play two games in one night,” he said.
2011 round one fixtures
Carlton v Richmond
Geelong v St Kilda
Collingwood v Port Adelaide
Brisbane v Fremantle
Adelaide v Hawthorn
West Coast v Nth Melbourne
Sydney v Melbourne
Essendon v Western Bulldogs