AFLW backs in 10-round 2022 fixture

St Kilda and Richmond will kick off the new AFLW season in Frankston. Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

AFLW officials have confirmed a 10-round fixture for the 2022 season but are braced for further COVID-19 curve balls amid the ongoing uncertainty concerning interstate travel restrictions.

The schedule has been laid out for rounds one to nine - St Kilda and Richmond meet in the season opener on January 7 - while the round 10 match-ups will be revealed in coming days.

The final two rounds of the home-and-away season are a floating fixture to be locked in by the end of round four, allowing the league some flexibility in the schedule leading into a six-team finals series.

Western Australia's hard-line quarantine stance has all but cost the state one of cricket's marquee Ashes Test matches but AFLW officials are confident their arrangement with the state government will allow the season to flow smoothly.

Fremantle will play their first two matches at home and West Coast their first three - none of those against Victorian opponents - with both clubs then set to embark on 16-day road trips, each consisting of three away games.

It is then hoped WA's border will be open in February for the Dockers and Eagles to play home matches against clubs from all over the country.

AFL general manager of women's football Nicole Livingstone was tight-lipped on Thursday about the exact details that will allow AFLW teams to travel in and out of the state.

"It does allow us to be able to bring our players in and out to be able to play their matches, but with everything we do, we are very mindful of not only protecting the health and safety of our playing group and our industry but of the wider community as well," Livingstone said.

"We've continued our dialogue with the WA government and we're aware of the fact that there's other arrangements in for other sports as well ... so we're pleased with where we've landed.

"But again, we'll continue to keep that dialogue open and and as a leader in the sports industry we're going to make sure that we do the right thing."

There will be one ladder for AFLW's sixth season, with the controversial conference system staying on the scrap heap for another year despite ongoing inequality in the fixture.

A full-length season fixture, featuring all teams playing each other at least once, remains a long-term proposition despite the wishes of the wider playing group.

Livingstone defended the decision to schedule a season opener between the low-ranked Saints and Tigers on a Friday night, tipping a sell-out crowd of about 8000 for the fixture at Frankston's SkyBus Stadium.

That match that has been likely robbed of one of its biggest potential drawcards after St Kilda's All-Australian and two-time best-and-fairest winner Georgia Patrikios took a leave of absence from the game because of the league's COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

In other round one matches, the Western Bulldogs will take on rivals Melbourne at Whitten Oval and Carlton host Collingwood at Ikon Park.

There are two feature rounds in the fixture - Pride Round (three) and Indigenous Round (eight).