The 2017 Peter Jackson VFL season will start a week earlier than scheduled with the announcement of a date change for the Round 1 clash between Port Melbourne and the Northern Blues.
The first taste of VFL home and away action will now be on Saturday April 8, with the Borough to host the Blues in a standalone season opener at North Port Oval.
Both teams will be hoping to start the season on a high, with a host of new recruits and familiar names joining both clubs in the offseason.
Port will see the return of Mitch Wooffindin and Robin Nahas while the Blues have added experienced AFL players Cameron O'Shea, Alex Browne and Luke Russell.
Port Melbourne coach Gary Ayres said the rescheduled game will be a great opportunity for supporters to catch a VFL game before Round 1 is completed on the Easter weekend.
“Being the only game for the Round 1 fixture that weekend, we see it as a real positive as we can appeal to both groups of supporters, ours and Northern Blues, to get down to North Port and really make it a great day,” Ayres said.
“Anytime we can be involved in a standalone opportunity, it can only be good for Port Melbourne and the Northern Blues.
“We are excited and bullish about our prospects for the coming season. We think we have recruited well and want to make sure we are giving our supporters a really good look at how we are going about our work and business this year.”
The change of date will also provide the Northern Blues the opportunity to face the NAB AFL Academy on Saturday April 15 at Etihad Stadium as part of a double header before the Carlton versus Gold Coast AFL Round 4 clash, with the Academy having regularly faced VFL opposition in recent years as part of its Level 2 camp in Melbourne.
Blues coach Josh Fraser said it will be a big fortnight for the side to open the season.
“A standalone start game is a great opportunity, especially against a traditional club like Port Melbourne, so as a football club we are really excited about that.
“I am sure there will be a terrific crowd there at North Port and it will give us a great test first up to see how much we have progressed,” Fraser said.
“We also welcome the chance for our boys to run out onto a world-class surface and stadium (against the AFL Academy), which is something that does not happen all that often.
“To test ourselves against some of the elite under 18 players in the country will provide a really exciting opportunity.”
The AFL Victoria development league game between Port Melbourne and Northern Blues will also move to April 8 at North Port Oval, with the seniors to begin at 2pm and development at 11am.
Round 1 of the Peter Jackson VFL season will then continue across the Easter weekend, beginning with 2016 premiers Footscray facing Box Hill Hawks on Good Friday.
The first Channel 7 game of the season will be Coburg versus Collingwood on Saturday April 15 from 2.30pm.