By Brian Murphy
Australia have named a star-studded 24-man squad, made up entirely of players who have received All Australian honours, for next month’s International Rules Test against Ireland in Perth.
The Australians have made good on their promise to field a strong line-up following the one-sided two-Test series in Ireland last October, which the home side won by a record 173-72 aggregate score.
Coach Alastair Clarkson (Hawthorn), along with his assistants Ross Lyon, Chris Scott, former Ireland, Kerry and Sydney Swans star Tadhg Kennelly, selector Gerard Healy and AFL football operations manager Mark Evans, picked the squad last Thursday and it was revealed on Wednesday in Perth.
There are nine current All Australian (the AFL equivalent of the All Stars) players in the squad, while Patrick Dangerfield, Nat Fyfe, Luke Hodge, Jobe Watson and Steve Johnson are among the star names selected for the one-off Test on November 22.
"It is a unbelievably talented squad which has achieved a lot in AFL football," assistant Lyon told AFL.com.au.
"The selection criteria, the capacity that we looked for was great running power and an ability to adapt quickly to the round ball. There's numerous players who have played in the series before."
Meanwhile, a 40-man extended Ireland panel, coached by Paul Earley once again this year, will train in Dublin this weekend, having gathered in Mayo last weekend.
“Last weekend was the first time everyone was in, with the Kerry and Donegal boys, so it’s all coming together,” says Cork's Aidan Walsh, who was the vice-captain last year. “It will be an interesting few weeks. There’s a very strong 40 players there so there will be very plenty of competition for places.”
Ireland, however, will have to plan without three of their star performers from last year, as Ciarán Byrne, Zach Tuohy and Ciarán Sheehan all have pre-season commitments with AFL side Carlton.
Ireland play Australia in a one-off game at Patersons Stadium in Perth on November 22.
Australia Squad: 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.