Two of the AFL’s brightest young superstars, Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe and West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui, fronted a media conference yesterday to talk about Australia’s upcoming International Rules Series against Ireland on home soil.
The duo spoke about the pride they have for representing their country for the first time – after their clubs had previously vetoed their involvement – and their enthusiasm for the clashes with the Irish, along with the challenges of mastering the round ball in the hybrid game, a mix of Australian Rules and Gaelic Football.
After a raft of club-driven withdrawals saw the concept undermined, the selection criteria was changed so that only All-Australian players from the current or previous season could be chosen – something that the brilliant Fyfe said appealed to him.
This will be the 18th International Rules Series contested, with Ireland leading the series win count 9-8 since 1984. Australia is searching for its first series victory since 2010.
Ireland play a warm-up match on Sunday against a VFL combination in Melbourne, while Australia take on NSW GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) in a practice match on Tuesday ahead of next weekend’s Test match.
Grant Birchall, Travis Boak, Luke Breust, Patrick Dangerfield, Dustin Fletcher, Nat Fyfe, Brendon Goddard, Robbie Gray, Brent Harvey, Luke Hodge, Kieren Jack, Steve Johnson, Jarrad McVeigh, Sam Mitchell, Leigh Montagna, Nic Naitanui, Nick Riewoldt, Tom Rockliff, Joel Selwood, Brodie Smith, Nick Smith, Harry Taylor, Jobe Watson, Chad Wingard.
International Rules Series Test match: Australia v Ireland, Saturday 22 November, Patersons Stadium, Perth.