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AFL Hall of Fame added to a feast of centenary sporting events

Date

David Polkinghorne

The AFL is on the verge of announcing its Hall of Fame dinner will be the latest addition to Canberra's sport-filled centenary celebrations.

While the AFL said no final decision had been made, The Canberra Times believes the blue ribbon event will be held in the nation's capital in early June.

The Hall of Fame is one of the AFL's premier events along with the Brownlow Medal, the draft and the grand final, but many experts rate it as the best night on the calendar because of its nature: a celebration of the careers of the best players in the game.

Its addition would be a big cherry on top of what was already shaping as a super year of football - and sport - in the ACT.

Canberra product James Hird will return to coach against his old mentor Kevin Sheedy in the pre-season NAB Cup when Greater Western Sydney plays Essendon under lights at Manuka Oval on March 8.

The Giants will also play St Kilda in the season proper on April 13, as well as continuing the rivalries with the Gold Coast Suns and Western Bulldogs at Manuka.

Canberra boasts two Hall of Fame members - Alex Jesaulenko and Hird, with Jesaulenko also an official AFL Legend.

After growing up in Yarralumla, Jesaulenko's name has become synonymous with football after the spectacular mark he took in Carlton's 1970 grand final victory over Collingwood.

He won four premierships as a player, including one as a captain-coach.

The Eastlake and Carlton legend welcomed the news of the Hall of Fame's likely trip to Canberra and said he'd head to his home town to be a part of it.

He agreed it was a great night out and was looking forward to going, especially since he could also have a ''couple of frothies'' with his childhood mates.

''All us old legends we get more legendary as time goes on, and we enjoy ourselves more,'' Jesaulenko told The Canberra Times.

''It is a very good night, it's a great honour [to be a part of it].''

ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr was tight-lipped about the impending announcement but was ''hopeful'' the deal would be done soon.

Canberra was already ensured a sporting feast.

Australia's cricket team will play at Manuka for the first time, in a one-dayer against the West Indies on February 6.

The ACT Brumbies face the British and Irish Lions at Canberra Stadium on June 18, while the Kangaroos will play the Kiwis in the Anzac Test on April 19.

Royal Canberra Golf Course hosts the women's Australian Golf Open in February, while the Australian Diamonds are up against rivals New Zealand at AIS Arena in October.

Soccer could be added to the list shortly with negotiations between the ACT government and Football Australia expected to resume once the Socceroos' commitments in Hong Kong are complete.

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