Sydney Swans, GWS Giants issued tough 2018 AFL draw

Dan Hannebery (c) looks on after the Swans' Preliminary Final loss to Geelong Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Adelaide won't have to wait long to have a crack at Richmond, with the Crows to host the Tigers in a Thursday night grand final rematch in round two at Adelaide Oval next year.

The AFL released the full fixture for the 2018 season on Tuesday and the league has stuck with a floating round 23 fixture with a bye round before the finals series kicks off.

Richmond will kick the season off and unfurl their premiership flag at the MCG in a now-standard fixture against Carlton, on Thursday night. The Tigers roar back into primetime in 2018 with Damien Hardwick's men playing five Friday night games and three Thursday night matches.

A key part of formulating the fixture is the 'weighted rule', which breaks the 2017 ladder into six groups -- top, middle and bottom six.

Greater Western Sydney and Sydney have been handed tough draws, with the Giants and Swans the only teams to play three top-six sides twice. Sydney also have the most six-day breaks with eight, while Gold Coast have the least with three.

Good Friday footy will continue but North Melbourne will take on St Kilda instead of the Western Bulldogs.

"We made it clear that we wouldn't lock in two teams and we've been true to our word there," AFL fixture boss Travis Auld said. "In the fixture process we allowed for a number of teams to play in that spot.

"North Melbourne have ended up with the opportunity for the second year in a row ... they did a really good job with it. The Bulldogs did as well but they'e got a lot of other things in their fixture, which made it difficult to get them back on Good Friday. St Kilda have been keen for some time and now they've got their opportunity."

The AFL's Chinese experiment will continue, in round nine, with Port Adelaide to take on the Suns at Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai on a Saturday afternoon.

Fremantle will have a bonus game at Perth Stadium after Gold Coast sold them a home game in round three while Metricon Stadium is used for the Commonwealth Games.

Melbourne will play two home games in the Northern Territory - against Adelaide in Alice Springs in round 10 and Fremantle in Darwin in round 16.

The 2018 grand final will be held on Saturday September 29, with the AFL to discuss further whether to leave it as a traditional afternoon match or move it to a twilight start.

Several games will be significant for players who will take on their old clubs for the first time:

- Geelong's Gary Ablett will face the Suns at Metricon Stadium in round 11.

- Adelaide's Bryce Gibbs will go up against Carlton at Adelaide Oval in round seven.

- Melbourne's Jake Lever will face the Crows for the first time after his acrimonious exit in round 10 in Alice Springs.

- Essendon's Jake Stringer will meet the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium in round three.

- Brisbane's Luke Hodge will go up against Hawthorn in round nine at the Gabba.