The AFL and the GAA today confirmed that Australia will play Ireland in a one-Test 2014 International Rules Series to be played at Patersons Stadium in Perth on Saturday 22 November.
There will be disappointment among expat fans on the east coast that there will be no second test, as has been in the case in past tours.
According to the AFL, Australia will be represented by “only the most talented AFL players and officials”, with the line-up limited to individuals who have been honoured with selection in the All Australian squad during their careers.
The Australian team will be coached by current All Australian and Hawthorn premiership coach Alastair Clarkson.
The team will also be represented by Eddie McGuire who has been appointed Chef de Mission for the Test.
According to the AFL, “a number of high profile players have been involved in shaping the format for this year’s Series and aspire to compete alongside the very best players in the AFL competition”.
They include Travis Boak, Patrick Dangerfield, Darren Glass, Luke Hodge, Steve Johnson, Nic Naitanui, Scott Pendlebury, Nick Riewoldt, Joel Selwood and Jobe Watson.
The AFL and GAA also confirmed that discussions were well-advanced around modifications to the IRS rules to allow for a broader range of AFL player types to be able to compete successfully.
AFL General Manager, Football Operations, Mark Evans said the AFL remained committed to the IRS concept and was keen to revitalise interest in the Series by ensuring it involved the best AFL players available, competing under rules that suited all players.
“Australian and Irish fans want to see a spectacular and competitive contest played between the most talented AFL players and Ireland’s best Gaelic footballers,” Mr Evans said.
“We are determined to restore the prestige and popularity of the International Rules Series between Australia and Ireland.
“The AFL and GAA continue to believe the IRS is an important opportunity for players from both codes to be recognised for their elite talent by receiving the honour of representing their country.”
He said the AFL acknowledged previous difficulties in fielding the best Australian side due to the timing of the Series and the unavailability of many of the competition’s most talented and exciting players.
“Ireland’s players have proved extremely keen and competitive in recent times and so we simply cannot afford to put forward anyone less than the AFL’s best players.
“By limiting selection to All Australian players, by scheduling the Test later in the year at the end of most players’ leave, and by amending the rules we believe we will field a strong and competitive Australian side that will re-establish the event’s standing in the eyes of fans,” Mr Evans said.
President of the GAA, Mr Liam O’Neill said the one sided nature of recent Series had negatively affected attendances and general public interest, but that a date in late November would assist enormously with player availability.
“With the best players from each country going head to head, I’m confident the sporting public will react positively,” Mr O’Neill said. “A sell-out crowd in November and a competitive contest that engages attendance would certainly give us something to build on for the future.”
Mr O’Neill restated his belief that the international game provided a vital outlet and recognition for the best footballers from both codes.
He said Ireland would be seeking to play a warm-up game in Australia ahead of the Test game and that Paul Earley will again be in charge of the Irish Team, with his backroom team including Tony Scullion (Derry), Seamus Mc Carthy (Tipperary), Jarlath Fallon (Galway) and Nicholas Walsh (Cavan/GWS Giants).