The Cats and the Demons will face off in the first of two games set for Alice Springs in 2014. The NAB Challenge will be the first time two Victorian based clubs will face off in the Red Centre.
The 18 AFL clubs will play 18 matches across every state and territory in Australia in 18 days to open the 2014 season when a revamped NAB Challenge welcomes the return of Australia’s indigenous game next year.
AFL General Manager – Broadcasting, Scheduling and Major Projects Simon Lethlean today announced the fixture for the 2014 NAB Challenge, in which every match of the pre-season will be telecast by key partner Foxtel / Fox Footy.
Matches will be played in all nine states and territories across the 18 days of competition, with matches again being taken to non-traditional venues that don’t normally host AFL football during the premiership season – Blacktown (NSW), Joondalup (WA), North Ballarat (Vic), Richmond Oval (SA), TIO Traegar Park, Alice Springs (NT), Townsville (Qld), Wagga (NSW) and Wangaratta (Vic).
After a comprehensive review of both the pre-season period and the premiership season by the AFL Commission and Executive during 2013, it was determined that the consensus view among clubs was that two competitive matches was the appropriate preparation for the regular season, resulting in a revised NAB Challenge format.
Mr Lethlean said the Geelong Cats and Collingwood would open the NAB Challenge with the first match at Simonds Stadium on Wednesday February 12, with one game per day running through to Saturday March 1 with two games for each club.
"All clubs have a minimum six-day break between their games and every match has been scheduled either as a night game or late-afternoon match to avoid the peak heat in the late summer period," Mr Lethlean said.
"The shortened format enables clubs to use their senior players as they see fit to prepare for the opening to the premiership season, as well as offering the flexibility to provide opportunities for new players and rookies that is such a key feature of the NAB Challenge.
"As we introduced for the 2012 season, by having fixtured each club's matches for the NAB Challenge, clubs are aware of their travel schedule and can fully plan their preparation and training workload as they build up to the start of the premiership season," he said.
National Australia Bank's General Manager Consumer Marketing, Kevin Ramsdale said, "Through our longstanding AFL partnership, we've been Footifying Australia for over 10 years, and the NAB Challenge is a perfect way to build upon this in 2014. The new format is an exciting innovation that will enable us to Footify regional communities such as Townsville, Wagga, Wangaratta and Joondalup. I’ve no doubt our employees and customers will be pleased to see Australia's game, at the elite level, heading their way."
"The NAB Challenge also provides opportunities to preview exciting developments ahead of the premiership season; the first glimpse of major player moves, along with future stars of the game debuting on the big stage, such as potential NAB AFL Draftee, Tom Boyd," Mr Ramsdale continued.
Mr Lethlean said FOX FOOTY would exclusively cover all matches live and thanked both them and NAB for their support of the revamped NAB Challenge.
BELOW IS A FULL DRAW OF THE NAB CHALLENGE IN 2014.