full fixtures, grudge matches, best games to watch, grand final rematch, Jason Horne-Francis trade request
The full 2023 AFL fixture is here and some clear winners and losers have emerged. There are also plenty of grudge matches to look forward to.
Mark these clashes down in your calendar (all times EDT).
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GRAND FINAL REMATCH (Geelong v Sydney)
Round 6, April 22, 7:25pm at GMHBA Stadium
How will Sydney respond to their 2022 Grand Final drubbing? The Cats got the cream and premiership cup in the big dance the last time the two teams’ met. But history shows it’s the Swans who gets the points when the two clubs face-off before Round 10. In fact, it’s been a decade since Geelong last got a win over Sydney pre-Round 10 in a season.
GRUNDY-BOWL (Collingwood v Melbourne)
Round 13, June 12, 3.20pm at MCG
It’s no secret Brodie Grundy expected to be a Magpie for life. But his injury-interrupted 2022 campaign, plus the rise of Collingwood’s Mason Cox-Darcy Cameron ruck partnership, saw the club off-load their pricey two-time All Australian. Now a Demon, there’s no doubt Grundy will be raring to go against his form side – and show the club what they’re missing. The ruck battle will go a big way to determining the outcome of the match, with Melbourne’s Grundy-Max Gawn combo expected to be lethal.
MORE 2023 DRAW NEWS
FULL FIXTURE: The full 2023 AFL fixture… every club, every round, every game
WINNERS AND LOSERS: New coach’s blow, a Swan shock and big Bombers boost
THE POWER STRUGGLE (Port Adelaide v North Melbourne)
Round 9, May 13, 2.10pm at Blundstone Arena
Port Adelaide couldn’t believe their luck when 2021 number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis told North Melbourne he wanted a trade home after just one season. And it’s clear there’s no love lost between Horne-Francis and his former club. List boss Brady Rawlings has hinted there’s more to the story than the drama that played out publicly in season 2022. Add in Roo Cam Zurhaar’s social media sledging of Horne-Francis, and this contest looms as the spiciest of 2023.
POST-PRELIM PAIN (Sydney v Collingwood)
Round 8, May 7, 3.20pm at MCG
It was heartbreak for the Magpies in the cruellest fashion in 2022 – a one-point preliminary final loss away from home after a gallant fightback. After Collingwood’s season of miracles, their luck finally ran out against the Swans at the SCG – at a venue where Pies youngster Jack Ginnivan was booed while injured. Collingwood will be determined to go one better and “use the wipers”, as coach Craig McRae used as an analogy in 2022, to go one better.
THE RETURN OF CRIPPS (Carlton v Brisbane)
Round 8, May 5, 7.50pm at Marvel Stadium
Brisbane fans were left seething when Blues skipper Patrick Cripps walked away without penalty for the collision that concussed Callum Ah Chee. It was Carlton’s extraordinary appeal, after failing at the Tribunal, that ultimately led Cripps to his Brownlow Medal win in 2022 – but Lions fans felt slighted by the whole ordeal. Cripps can expect plenty of boos when he takes on Brisbane in 2023.
THE GIANT FAREWELL (Richmond v GWS)
Round 12, June 4, 1.10pm at GIANTS Stadium
Not only did GWS lose two star midfielders at trade time, but they lost the duo to the same club in remarkable scenes. Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper both liked what they saw at Richmond and walked out on the Giants. Now they’ll face their former teammates for the first time. The Giants are no stranger to players shunning the NSW lifestyle for the bigger AFL clubs, but this time they’ll get to face two of their former teammates in the same match.
DOG GONE, RORY! (Fremantle v Western Bulldogs)
Round 6, April 21, 8.10pm at Optus Stadium
The Dockers ended the Bulldogs’ charge in 2022 with a brilliant comeback win in the elimination final. But the Dogs got the last laugh when they lured key forward Rory Lobb out of Fremantle to provide the back up Aaron Naughton has desperately needed. With both sides expected to be finals contenders, the clash between the Dockers and Dogs shapes to be crucial.
THE HEARTBREAKER (Carlton v Collingwood)
Round 10, May 21, 3.20pm at MCG
Who could forget the heartbreaking MCG scenes as Carlton’s one-point Round 23 loss saw them drop out of the top eight for the first time all season and miss the finals – by just 0.6 per cent. The Blues had every chance to win that match and couldn’t get it done. No doubt coach Michael Voss will use the match as a big motivator when these two sides meet in 2023.
DERBY DELIGHT (Fremantle v West Coast)
Round 3, DATE, 5.20pm (3.20pm local) at Optus Stadium
West Coast are no longer the big birds in town and coughed up State bragging rights to rivals Fremantle in 2022. And while the Eagles aren’t expected to fly high in 2023, the derby always throws up it’s own drama as the form guide goes out the window. While little brother Fremantle is sitting pretty with a squad building premiership momentum, the Eagles are simply in rebuild mode. But no one has forgotten Andrew Gaff’s infamous off the ball hit on Docker Andrew Brayshaw either, setting the stage for another ding-dong battle.
‘New era’ underway at West Coast | 00:54
BIG BOYS TUSSLE (Hawthorn v Collingwood)
Round 21, August 4, TBC at MCG
Two proud Victorian clubs will go head to head – but in completely different stages of premiership window. Former Hawk Tom Mitchell will get to face the club that deemed him no longer required as they start their rebuild. Collingwood has shown the best path out of the doldrums – after jumping from bottom four to top four in just one year.
DUNK ON DUNKLEY (Brisbane v Western Bulldogs)
Round 3, March 30, 7.20pm at Marvel Stadium
The Western Bulldogs didn’t want to lose Josh Dunkley. They managed to keep hold of him back in 2020 and almost made it through another Trade Period before an 11th hour deal was struck on the deadline. Dunkley’s manager was left unimpressed by the ordeal with the Lions, stating the clubs were haggling over a future fourth round pick. At least Dunkley will have one ally in his former teammates, with best mate Adam Treloar still at the Bulldogs.
PRODIGAL SON RETURNS (Melbourne v Fremantle)
Round 11, May 27, 2.10pm at MCG
Melbourne’s prized 2019 draftee, and premiership ruckman, Luke Jackson abandoned ship and headed to the Dockers for 2023 and beyond in one of the worst-kept secrets in the AFL. Rumours of Jackson’s return home had run rampant throughout 2022, disrupting the Demons all season. Now with Jackson back home and Melbourne getting their own ruck weaponry with Brodie Grundy, the clash between these two clubs is sure to be fierce.
Hipwood signs monster 6-year deal | 00:42
THE SHOWDOWN (Adelaide v Port Adelaide)
Round 3, April 1, 7.30pm (7pm local) at Adelaide Oval
It doesn’t matter where these two clubs sit on the ladder when it’s time for a Showdown. The hatred between the two clubs and two fan bases runs deep, and the physicality always goes up a notch when it comes to SA dominance. Expect trash talk in the lead up and fireworks during the game.
BRING BACK THE BIFF (Brisbane v Melbourne)
Round 1, March 24, 7.50m (6.50pm local) at The Gabba
Melbourne flew north to face the Lions in Round 23 last year and absolutely belted their rivals in a thumping we aren’t used to seeing in recent years. The Demons went after the likes of Dayne Zorko physically – with his sledge towards Harrison Petty igniting the fire between the two sides. It was the Lions who got the last laugh with their semi final victory knocking Melbourne out of the 2022 premiership race in straight sets. Expect the Demons to respond in 2023.