Cairns will host AFL action later this year for the first time since the Suns-Roos clash in 2018. Image by Brian Cassey/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

Cairns confirmed to host AFL teams, games

2020-07-24 15:26:02

A new AFL hub in Cairns will host at least two clubs, with a minimum of three games to be played at Cazaly’s Stadium as Queensland continues to build a case to lure the grand final away from the MCG.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the move on Friday morning, with league boss Gillon McLachlan confirming on 3AW the Far North Queensland city will become the competition’s latest hub.

“I’m pretty confident it’s going to be two clubs going to Cairns. It may be more, but my best understanding is it will be two clubs,” McLachlan said.

“A couple of clubs will go there for three to four weeks.

“It’s a great football area, we’ve got a good venue up there and we’ve got an opportunity to promote football in the region … to take the game to people up there.

“It’s a good opportunity.”

The AFL have released the schedule up until round 12, with the Cairns games likely to happen early in the next block of fixtures.

Western Bulldogs, Richmond, North Melbourne and Gold Coast have previously featured in home-and-away matches at the venue, with eight games played there between 2011 and 2018.

Former Sun Karmichael Hunt famously kicked a goal after the final siren at the ground in round 16 of the 2012 season to hand the Tigers a two-point loss.

Victoria’s worsening coronavirus situation forced the state’s 10 AFL clubs to depart for interstate hubs in Perth, Sydney and Gold Coast after round five.

They will spend up to 10 weeks away as the AFL attempts to complete a compressed 17-round season.

The latest block of fixtures includes a busy run of 33 games in 20 days, which McLachlan estimates should see the grand final take place in mid-to-late October.

Where the premiership decider is played remains up in the air given the rapidly changing situation in Victoria.

“They’ve been great to us, Queensland, and it’s very clear that Queensland would love to have the grand final … as would other states,” McLachlan said.

“I don’t have anything to add other than what I’ve said, and that is that the grand final is at the MCG, it’s contracted.

“Until things change, or there’s anything alternate, that’s where it will be.

“If it’s not there, then obviously Queensland is a fabulous option.”