GWS Giants to play Anzac Day game in Canberra

The Greater Western Sydney Giants will host a historic Anzac Day match in Canberra next year and have lobbied the AFL to mark the occasion by bringing a competition heavyweight to the capital.

Giants chief executive Dave Matthews said he wanted the April 25 game to be "the biggest AFL match" Canberra fans had seen, with Geelong and Hawthorn among the preferred teams the Giants have submitted to the AFL in their fixtures wish-list.

Matthews met on Thursday with AFL boss Gill McLachlan, who ticked off on the Anzac Day match at Manuka Oval.

The Giants are looking at a twilight time-slot that does not clash with the AFL's traditional Anzac day blockbuster between Collingwood and Essendon. It would also avoid a clash of codes in Canberra, with the ACT Brumbies likely to stage an Anzac-themed Super Rugby match against a New Zealand opponent on the night of Friday, April 24.

The Giants are in the third season of a 10-year deal to play AFL matches in Canberra and Matthews said the Anzac Day match was part of the club's plan to start delivering stronger fixtures at Manuka.

Ahead of the match against North Melbourne in Canberra on Saturday, the Giants have played eight AFL premiership games at Manuka, for an average crowd of 8,095. But attendance rose to a record 11,092 when the Giants played a larger Melbourne club, St Kilda, in 2013.


"What we need now is the AFL to deliver a really strong fixture and I think it starts with trying to get some of the really big Melbourne clubs here," Matthews said.

"What we want to do is create a big event, to play against a big club on Anzac day, one of the heavyweights, that's a Geelong, Hawthorn, Richmond, Carlton or Essendon."

Canberra will be a centre of national commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the Anzacs landing at Gallipoli in 2015.

More than 16,000 fans attended when the Brumbies staged an Anzac Day game against New Zealand's Waikato Chiefs this year and the Super Rugby club is looking to make it an annual fixture.

The 2015 Super Rugby draw will be finalised in the coming weeks, with the Brumbies likely to be awarded a home game at Canberra Stadium on Friday, April 24.

"We are trying to build a Canberra tradition that we have an Anzac Day game," said Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards.

"For us it makes sense to have a Friday night game [next year] and that's what we're lobbying for."

A blockbuster Anzac Day AFL fixture would add to a calendar of big events in Canberra to start next year. Canberra Stadium will host seven matches in the Asian Cup in January, the largest soccer tournament to be staged in Australia.

Manuka Oval will also host three matches of the cricket World Cup in February-March, as well as staging the final of the Big Bash League in January.

ACT deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the growing 2015 sporting calendar showed Canberra was capable of building on the legacy of 2013, Canberra's Centenary year.

"I thought it was going to be hard to get a bigger year in sport than 2013, but we're well on our way now for 2015," Barr said.

"Canberrans missed out in our first century on a lot of sporting and cultural events that other cities take for granted, we've now got a range of venues that are more than able to meet the needs of these major events. We're open for business.

"It wouldn't have been possible without the upgrades to Manuka Oval and undoubtedly that investment is reaping rewards now in quality content, not only in AFL but also in cricket."