Three frequent visitors and wooden spooners Carlton will challenge Hawthorn for AFL premierships points in Launceston next year.
Tasmania will have eight matches overall with three non-Victorian clubs that failed to make finals in 2018 – Port Adelaide, Fremantle and Brisbane – to take on Alastair Clarkson’s men at UTAS Stadium on Saturday afternoons.
The matches will follow the Blues’ Sunday clash in round 6, a pre-season match against Richmond and the North Melbourne Tasmanian’s AFLW battle with Western Bulldogs in February.
The Power, who have won five times in nine attempts at the venue, will line-up in round 10, the Dockers will be chasing just their second victory this side of Bass Strait in round 17 and – like Port – the Lions will be back for a second consecutive season.
Chris Fagan’s young Brisbane side stunned Hawthorn last year by 33 points in front of 12,557 fans.
Tasmania’s first crowd below 10,000 people in 17 years was recorded in 2018 with just 9007 supporters looking on as the Hawks and Gold Coast did battle in June.
Hawthorn chief executive officer Justin Reeves said he was content with the Tasmanian element of its draw.
“We understand the fixture process is a challenging one for the league, however, it is disappointing we did not receive any of the priority fixture requests we submitted to the AFL,” Reeves said.
“Playing Richmond in the [pre-season] and Carlton… is a fantastic outcome for our fans down south.
“Our 9000-plus members in Tassie are keen to see us play against the traditional Melbourne teams and we know this will be a highlight for them.”
Matches with the most potential to draw the biggest crowds appear to have been scheduled for the state’s capital, with three finalists from last season to visit.
Bellerive Oval will see an extra fourth match with North Melbourne to face a Sydney side headlined by star forward Lance Franklin on a Saturday night in round 9.
Expansion club GWS Giants and traditional Victorian side St Kilda will both play Sunday afternoon matches in rounds 13 and 16, while the Roos will host premiership fancies Melbourne in the floating final-round next August on a day and time to be confirmed.
AFL Tasmania chief executive Trisha Squires was diplomatic and said that both ends of the state had “good fixtures”.
She was excited by the Southern line-up and listed having Tasmanian connections to Fagan and Carlton boss Brendon Bolton as bonuses for Launceston.
Squires also talked up Port-turned-Hawk forward Chad Wingard playing against his former teammates as a potential drawcard.
“I personally don’t know what Hawthorn requested [but] we put in some suggestions about timings of playing in Launceston and also what to fixture against or with,” Squires said.
“I don’t think Tassie Hawks’ fans have been dudded; I think there will be four winnable games.
“So If you’re a Hawks fan – that’s a positive thing.”
Squires denied the Tasmanian football market was too crowded with eight home-and-away matches, and is confident fans will continue to rock up despite a clear drop off in the numbers of late.
“We want to see crowds up around 15,000. As we know crowd attendances in the past two years,” Squires said.
“A bit of that’s fixturing and success of the clubs, but I think North Melbourne playing four games is going to help.”
- AFLW: North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos v Western Bulldogs at UTAS Stadium on Friday, February 15, from 7.15pm.
- AFL PRE-SEASON: Hawthorn v Richmond at UTAS Stadium on Saturday, March 9, from 7.10 pm.
- AFL ROUND 6: Hawthorn v Carlton at UTAS Stadium on Sunday, April 28, from 3.20pm.
- AFL ROUND 10: Hawthorn v Port Adelaide at UTAS Stadium on Saturday, May 25, from 1.45pm.
- AFL ROUND 17: Hawthorn v Fremantle UTAS Stadium on Saturday, July 13, from 2.10pm.
- AFL ROUND 19: Hawthorn v Brisbane UTAS Stadium on Saturday, July 27, from 1.45pm.
- AFLW: North Melbourne v Carlton at North Hobart Oval on Sunday, February 3, from 1.05pm.
- AFL ROUND 9: North Melbourne v Sydney at Bellerive Oval on Saturday, May 17, from 7.25pm.
- AFL ROUND 13: North Melbourne v GWS at Bellerive Oval on Sunday, June 16, from 3.20pm.
- AFL ROUND 16: North Melbourne v St Kilda at Bellerive Oval on Sunday, July 7, from 3.20pm.
- AFL ROUND 23: North Melbourne v Melbourne at Bellerive Oval on Friday, August 25.