A CROWD of more than 13,000 is expected next Saturday when Gary Ablett, the best player in the AFL, graces Launceston for the third time.
Barring injury this weekend, the dual Brownlow medallist will lead his up-and- coming Gold Coast Suns into battle against reigning premiers Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium.
The Suns sit in eighth spot on the ladder (a position they could lose this weekend with a loss to Ablett's former side Geelong), while Hawthorn is second, and faces Collingwood in a blockbuster at the MCG.
The Hawks easily won the earlier encounter between the two teams by 99 points at Metricon Stadium in round 4.
More than a week out from the game, Hawthorn Tasmanian operations manager Shayne Stevenson said about 9000 tickets had been sold or allocated via memberships, 500 down from the same stage for the match against West Coast earlier this month.
A season's best crowd of 15,503 witnessed the Hawks down the Eagles by 44 points.
"History tells us a lot more tickets are sold in the week leading up to the game, so we're expecting a big influx of ticket sales next week," Mr Stevenson said.
"There's no doubt Gary Ablett is a big drawcard and there's no doubt that will be no different with him coming back down to Tassie.
"If you are a genuine footy fan you will get to see Gary and some of our stars in action, so there will be some of the biggest names in the game in action."
Ablett, who turned 30 last Saturday, last played in Launceston in the Suns' only appearance in Launceston in round 13, 2011, when he collected 34 touches in the Suns' 71-point loss.
He was also part of the Geelong team which lost to the Hawks by four points in round 4, 2007.
The clash could see Launceston's Rising Star nominee Kade Kolodjasnij in action in his home state, with four other Tasmanians (including fellow former Blue Jesse Lonergan) on the Suns' list.
Tickets are are available from ticketmaster.com and ticketmaster outlets, including the Theatre North office in Launceston.