May date key for the Rodney Eade-led Gold Coast Suns
SATURDAY, May 23 has suddenly emerged as one of the key dates in the 2015 AFL season after the draw was officially released yesterday.
That's the day the Gold Coast Suns, under new coach Rodney Eade, will host Collingwood, the team where he has been working as the development manager alongside coach Nathan Buckley.
Eade (pictured) will be unveiled at Metricon Stadium today after the Suns agreed on a compensation package with the Magpies, something that was demanded by Collingwood president Eddie McGuire.
It will be Eade's third stint as senior coach at an AFL club, after he spent a total of 14 seasons at the Sydney Swans and Western Bulldogs. He led the Swans to the grand final in 1996, and the Bulldogs to three consecutive preliminary finals between 2007 and 2009.
The Suns, hopeful of playing in the finals for the first time, open their season against Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday, April 4, before hosting 2014 wooden spooner St Kilda.
They will also feature in one of five games on Anzac Day, taking on fellow expansion club GWS in Canberra.
Other games on that day are: St Kilda v Carlton in New Zealand, Essendon v Collingwood at the MCG, Port Adelaide v Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval and Fremantle v the Swans at Patersons Stadium.
Highlights of the draw include 47 games in Victoria on Saturday afternoons, 13 more than last year, in an attempt by the AFL to deliver a more "fan-friendly" fixture. The bigger Victorian clubs - Carlton, Essendon, Collingwood, Richmond, Geelong and premier Hawthorn - feature prominently in those clashes. The league has scrapped Sunday night matches after they were shunned by fans last season, and has removed the Monday night match during the Mother's Day round.
Five Thursday night games will be played, four of them in consecutive weeks from rounds 12-15.
All Victorian-based clubs will travel interstate at least five times, and each club will play every other club once, and five others twice.