AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan has announced the six divisions for round one of the revised 2011 NAB Cup competition, where the AFL’s 16 clubs, plus newcomers Gold Coast and Team GWS, will be placed in six pools.
Each club will play two matches in their pool against the other two sides, with all round one matches being shortened games, comprising two 20-minute halves (approximately) across a three-hour window for the three matches.
National Australia Bank's General Manager of Community and Corporate Responsibility, Tim O'Leary, said NAB was delighted that the NAB Cup and NAB Challenge would again extend to reach many Australian communities.
"The ability to take the AFL to thousands of people around the country who don't often get a chance to experience the footy is one of the features of the competition most significant to NAB," Mr O'Leary said.
Mr McLachlan said the AFL was pleased to confirm the fixture.
“The introduction of Gold Coast and Team GWS are great steps for our competition and there will be tremendous excitement when both teams take the field for the first time,” Mr McLachlan said.
“Gold Coast has worked extremely hard over the last year to prepare for its AFL debut and will complete the final pieces in its recruiting puzzle at next month’s NAB AFL Draft on the Gold Coast.
“Team GWS is beginning the process now of identifying young talent and the NAB Cup will provide an initial opportunity for Kevin Sheedy and his coaching staff to assess what they need to do over the next 12 months,” he said.
Mr McLachlan said it made sense for the AFL to place Team GWS at home in Blacktown for its first steps into the elite competition, before the club made its full debut for the 2012 year.
The other round one pools, and their locations, are:
• Adelaide, Port Adelaide and Melbourne at AAMI Stadium, Friday night February 11.
• Collingwood, Carlton and Richmond at Etihad Stadium, Saturday night February 12.
• West Coast, Fremantle and Hawthorn at Patersons Stadium, Sunday afternoon February 13.
• Essendon, the Brisbane Lions and St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, Friday night February 18.
• Geelong Cats, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs at Skilled Stadium, Sunday afternoon February 20.
The introduction of the Gold Coast Football Club, as the competition’s 17th side from 2011 onwards, had meant the AFL was not able to continue with a traditional four-week straight knockout competition for the NAB Cup.
Under the new format that was announced in May 2010, the six winners of each division will qualify for round two, along with the two other sides that have the best records among all the other teams, to allow for a traditional quarter-final set up of eight teams, before moving into semi finals and a grand final over a three-week period.
Mr McLachlan said all matches in the NAB Cup would be broadcast by one of the AFL’s partners – Channel Seven, the Ten Network or Fox Sports – with the final to be broadcast by Channel 7 on Friday March 11.
“We are looking forward to seeing how the new format will work for round one next year,” Mr McLachlan said.
“The shortened format will allow players and teams to adjust their preparation for the season, before playing full-scale matches from week two of the NAB Cup and NAB Challenge competitions, and then beginning the premiership season in late March.
In round one, supporters will see their team play twice and, all up, there will be three matches played during a three-hour period,” he said.
“We had received a lot of feedback from clubs that three full-scale pre-season matches was the right number for them in terms of their preparation for the premiership season, and this format allows for three matches, along with a first week where players can play one match for 40 minutes, with a light run, or play both games for 80 minutes of football.”
Mr McLachlan said the venues for NAB Challenge matches would be announced later this year but would again include a range of venues outside capital cities to allow people in regional Australia to see AFL players in action.
Please find below the fixture and format for matches for Round 1 of 2011 NAB Cup.