Sport AFL Franklin, Hawks set for round eight blockbuster

Franklin, Hawks set for round eight blockbuster

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Star Sydney recruit Lance Franklin is scheduled to play against his old club Hawthorn for the first time in round eight next year.

The Swans will host the reigning premiers at ANZ Stadium in the 2014 fixture that was released on Thursday.

Former Collingwood fan favourite Dale Thomas will go up against his old club in round seven, when Carlton play their fierce rivals in a Friday night MCG blockbuster.

Another prominent Magpies departure during the trade period was Heath Shaw to Greater Western Sydney – he has to wait until round 22 to play his old side.

Three-time premiership player Paul Chapman is at Essendon after being delisted by Geelong – those two clash at Etihad Stadium in round 15.

The regular season starts on March 14 with Collingwood hosting Fremantle on Friday night at the MCG.

Round one will again be split over two weekends.

The AFL will introduce a weighting system, with the teams separated into three groups of six according to last year’s ladder positions.

Under the system, Hawthorn play fellow top-six teams Fremantle, Geelong and Sydney twice.

They play middle-six team Collingwood twice and bottom-six team Gold Coast twice.

Geelong play no bottom-six teams twice, while the Western Bulldogs, who finished 15th, play no top-six teams twice.

Fremantle (second) and Geelong (third) also play three other top-six teams twice.

Carlton originally finished last season ninth, but they made the top eight because of Essendon’s supplements scandal penalties.

The Blues beat Richmond in an elimination final, putting Carlton into the top six.

But their elevated position on the ladder has not dramatically affected their draw under the weighting system.

They play two top-six teams twice, plus two from the middle six and one in the bottom six.

That is the same mix as Collingwood, who finished eighth.

Hawthorn have their grand final rematch against Fremantle at the MCG in round three.

Adelaide Oval will replace AAMI Stadium as South Australia’s permanent AFL venue.

The AFL will have six Thursday night games and also experiment with Sunday night football.

Tasmania will host six matches – Hawthorn’s four home games in Launceston and North Melbourne hosting matches in Hobart.