Clash of the codes' giants will divide the city
David Pocock and Gary Ablett will play on the same day across town in Canberra next April.
Greater Western Sydney has lauded Canberra's ''great'' leg of the AFL fixture, while describing the clash with an ACT Brumbies game as ''inevitable''.
The final make-up of the fixture was announced yesterday, with Manuka Oval set to host the Gold Coast Suns and Western Bulldogs in rounds five and 15 respectively.
As revealed in The Canberra Times, the Giants will also play St Kilda (round three) and Essendon (NAB Cup, round three) in the ACT next year.
But the Suns game on April 27 is the same day as Brumbies recruit David Pocock's first clash against his old team, the Western Force, at Canberra Stadium.
When the Giants and Canberra Raiders had a similar clash in August, GWS chief executive David Matthews said the major football codes should hold a ''sit down'' to avoid any clashes in the future.
That clearly hasn't happened.
But Matthews said scheduling clashes would always be a problem.
''I think because of the calendar of elite sport that Canberra is now building up, there's inevitably going to be some clashes. It's always preferable for big events to avoid big events,'' he said.
Despite the clash, Matthews said it was a ''really strong'' fixture, allowing the Giants to build on past rivalries, as well as bring a couple of big Victorian clubs to the nation's capital.
Former Essendon coach and current Giants mentor, Kevin Sheedy, will not only test the Manuka lights but his wits against the Bombers' favourite son, James Hird, in the pre-season.
Another big name, St Kilda forward Nick Riewoldt, will descend on Canberra in April.
The Giants and Western Bulldogs will again fight it out for the Prime Minister's Cup on July 6.
Originally, the PM's Cup was going to be GWS's first home-and-away game in Canberra each year, which would mean it would be playing the Saints for it in 2013, but it has decided to stay with the Bulldogs - fitting, considering Prime Minister Julia Gillard is the Bulldogs' No. 1 ticket holder. The Bulldogs previously played their home game against the Sydney Swans at Manuka before the birth of GWS.
Matthews was excited the Giants would continue their rivalry against fellow fledgling club Gold Coast in the ACT. GWS brought up its first-ever AFL win against the Suns - by 27 points - here earlier this year, and Matthews wanted to play the Gold Coast in Canberra ''every year for the next 10 years''.
He was tipping the Giants would win a couple of games in the ACT.
''You'd like to win them all, but certainly Gold Coast would be feeling the pressure of coming to play us at Manuka again,'' he said. ''And I think we were very competitive against the Western Bulldogs and, probably in the end, a bit unlucky … and Sheeds would be desperate to get a win against his old side.''
GWS will again start its NAB Cup campaign at Blacktown against the Sydney Swans, with Carlton also playing in the three-way opening round on February 24. And the two Sydney clubs will again kick off their seasons proper with a derby at ANZ Stadium. The Giants will play the Swans, Melbourne, Suns, Port Adelaide and Essendon twice, with premier Sydney the only one of those teams to make the finals in 2012.