The AFL have come good on their promise to field a very strong side against the touring Irish International Rules team next month.
Next month’s International Rules contest will be decided in a single test match at Perth’s Patersons Stadium on Saturday, November 22.
The Aussie squad features some genuine superstars of the game including Patrick Dangerfield of Adelaide, Luke Hodge of Hawthorn, Joel Selwood of Geelong and Nick Riewoldt of St Kilda.
Australia suffered a 2-0 defeat on last year”s tour of Ireland, being comfortably beaten for the Cormac Macanallen Trophy, and totally revised its approach to this year’s series with an altered series date in late November and commitment from the game’s leading players to the concept.
The coaching panel of Alastair Clarkson, Ross Lyon, Chris Scott and Kerryman Tadhg Kennelly nominated a squad comprised entirely of players who were either All Australian selections in 2014, or who had previously been an All Australian player at some point in their careers.
The squad is: Grant Birchall (Hawthorn), Travis Boak (Port Adelaide), Luke Bruest (Hawthorn), Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide Crows), Dustin Fletcher (Essendon), Nat Fyfe (Fremantle), Brendon Goddard (Essendon), Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide), Brent Harvey (North Melbourne), Luke Hodge (Hawthorn), Kieren Jack (Sydney Swans), Steve Johnson (Geelong Cats), Jarrad McVeigh (Sydney Swans), Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn), Leigh Montagna (St Kilda), Nic Naitanui (West Coast), Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda), Tom Rockliff (Brisbane Lions), Joel Selwood (Geelong Cats), Brodie Smith (Adelaide Crows), Nick Smith (Sydney Swans), Harry Taylor (Geelong Cats), Jobe Watson (Essendon) and Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide).
Assistant coach Ross Lyon and North Melbourne’s Brent Harvey – the most capped Australian player in IRS matches – were present in Perth for the announcement and said the squad represented the best collection of talent the competition could muster.
“The playing list speaks for itself and this collection of skill gives us a great chance to give a very good account of ourselves and represent Australia and win against a talented and committed opponent,” Lyon said.
“On a personal note, I get the chance to work with the very best coaches in the game and to see the very best players prepare themselves.”
Harvey, who first represented Australia on its undefeated tour of Ireland in 2000, said he jumped at the chance to be involved again after five previous series, including as captain in 2008.
“Ive always loved representative football and this is a chance to meet and play with great players that may never come for me again.
“Each time I’ve played, I’ve learned something from someone at another club that has made me a better player and I particularly wanted the chance to absorb the football knowledge of the coaching group,” he said.
The team will come together in Sydney a week before the game to prepare with an initial training camp, before heading to Perth in the days before the game. The squad, which contains seven current club captains and two former club captains, will have its leadership named after the players have come together.
Dangerfield, Fletcher, Goddard, Gray, Harvey, Hodge, Jack, McVeigh, Montagna and Riewoldt have all previously represented Australia against Ireland and the squad was finalised after a telephone hook-up late last week between the coaching panel of Clarkson, Lyon, Scott and Kennelly.
Australia and Ireland have met three times previously in Perth with Australia holding a 2-1 record, claiming victories in 2003 and 2005, before a one-point loss in 2008.