Alex Pearce will replace Michael Johnson in Fremantle’s AFL season-opener against the Western Bulldogs as the veteran defender nurses a calf strain.
It follows Johnson’s concussion from a sling tackle by Nakia Cockatoo during their last NAB Challenge match, an incident that cost the young Geelong player a two-game suspension.
The Docker was also sidelined for eight matches last season due to a hamstring injury.
The Bulldogs have left out Tory Dickson for the Etihad Stadium clash on Sunday. He suffered an adductor strain during the pre-season and will be replaced by Nathan Hrovat.
Bulldogs pair Josh Dunkley and Marcus Adams will make their AFL debuts, while Hawthorn premiership player Matt Suckling will play his first game for the club.
Former Gold Coast key forward Charlie Dixon will make his Port Adelaide debut in their home game against St Kilda on Sunday.
Power speedster Jared Polec will also play his first game since round five last season.
The Saints’ Jade Gresham is yet another first-round draft pick from 2015 making his AFL debut at the start of the season.
Former Brisbane midfielder Jack Redden’s first game for West Coast will be against his old club when they clash at Subiaco on Sunday.
Brisbane have named No.2 draft pick Josh Schache for his AFL debut as Tom Bell (Carlton), Josh Walker (Geelong) and Ryan Bastinac (North Melbourne) also play their first games as Lions.
Captain Tom Rockliff (hamstring) and Allen Christensen (finger) will play after having to sit out Brisbane’s three pre-season games.