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Suns, Cats to kick off 2024 Sir Doug Nicholls Round

Jackson Clark -

A clash between the Gold Coast Suns and Geelong in Darwin will kick off next year's AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

The AFL announced yesterday that the AFL would again be returning to the Top End with three games announced for the Northern Territory next season.

In Darwin, the Suns will host North Melbourne on a Saturday night in Round 9 and then Geelong the following round during a Thursday night time slot to open Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

Elite footy also returns to Alice Springs with Melbourne facing Fremantle at TIO Traeger Park in Round 12.

The clash announced between the Suns and the Cats, plus the annual Dreamtime at the G game between Essendon and Richmond, are so far the only confirmed games for next year's Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

The fixture reveal coincides with the Gold Coast Suns also announcing the club has extended its partnership with the Territory for a further three seasons.

Suns Chief Executive Mark Evans has enjoyed watching the relationship build between the football club and the Northern Territory.

The Gold Coast Suns have won its past four matches at TIO Stadium. (Image: AFL)

"Whether it's a dazzling Malcolm Rosas Jnr goal, Joel Jeffrey's freakish athleticism, Ben Long's signature toughness or Lloyd Johnston's blistering speed, there will be plenty for the home crowd to cheer," Evans said.

The move will see two matches played in the NT each year over the next three seasons and.will hopefully strengthen the pathway to the elite level for talented Territory junior footballers.

The Suns have created a home ground advantage up in Darwin having won its past four matches at TIO Stadium, including wins over the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide in 2023.

In 2022, the Suns recorded back-to-back ten-goal wins over Hawthorn and North Melbourne.

"We are thrilled to once again have the opportunity to host back-to-back home games at TIO Stadium in Darwin for the next three years," Evans said.

"The NT has become our second home and we have taken pride in our ability to make Darwin a fortress where we play some of our best football.

"Territorians will have the chance to witness some of their homegrown heroes live in action at TIO Stadium."

Darwin is one of the Suns' recruiting zones and the club has easily the largest number of Northern Territory players on their list out of all the 18 AFL clubs.

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