West Coast Eagles will play first men’s AFL game at Perth Stadium in 2018

IT’S official – the West Coast Eagles will play the first men’s AFL match at the new Perth Stadium next year.

There had been a significant amount of debate in the lead-up to the announcement of the AFL fixtures this morning.

The Eagles had claimed they should be first to play at the stadium since the Fremantle Dockers played the opening WA game in the 2017 season.

In the end, the AFL stayed true to form and the Eagles will play Sydney on Sunday, March 25 at 4.10pm.

Fremantle’s opening game will take place on the preceding Saturday against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.

Bounce down for the Dockers is at 1.35pm Perth time.

In other news, Gary Ablett’s return to Geelong may see him play in a Sunday showdown at the MCG, against the emerging Melbourne Demons.

Ablett returned to the club he won two premierships with during the trade period, after seven seasons with the Gold Coast Suns.

The match could also feature the Demons debut of former star Adelaide defender Jake Lever.

The season will as usual kick off with the now traditional Thursday night fixture between Richmond and Carlton – which has added significance as the Tigers play their first match since breaking their 37-year premiership drought.

Luke Hodge could make his Brisbane Lions debut against St Kilda on the opening Saturday afternoon at Etihad Stadium.

His former club Hawthorn will look to get off to a good start in 2018 against Collingwood, at the MCG on Saturday night.

ROUND ONE DRAW FOR 2018 AFL SEASON:

Thursday, March 22

Richmond v Carlton, MCG, 7.25pm AEDT

Friday, March 23

Essendon v Adelaide, Etihad Stadium, 7.50pm AEDT

Saturday, March 24

St Kilda v Brisbane Lions, Etihad Stadium, 3.35pm AEDT

Port Adelaide v Fremantle, Adelaide Oval, 4.05pm CDT

Gold Coast v North Melbourne, Cazaly’s Stadium, Cairns, 6.25pm AEST

Hawthorn v Collingwood, MCG, 7.25pm AEDT

Sunday, March 25

Greater Western Sydney v Western Bulldogs, Canberra, 1.10pm AEDT

Melbourne v Geelong, MCG, 3.20pm AEDT

West Coast v Sydney, Perth Stadium, 4.10pm WST