The prospects of a tempestuous first International Rules test on Sunday are growing as the Australian camp have again spoken about having the physical edge on Ireland, writes John Fogarty in Adelaide.
Last week, Chad Winyard indicated they would attempt to exert their supposed superiority in that department over the visiting Irish – “If it’s physicality, we’ve got a few big boys to try and push them around and try and win. Whatever advantage we get, and what we think we have, we’re going to use.”
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan also emphasised that while “it’s not like the Irish are shrinking violets, there’s a physical advantage that I think we have.”
Essendon’s Brendan Goddard, who has played in a number of series in defence, will be the home side’s goalkeeper, taking over from long-time custodian Dustin Fletcher who retired two years ago. He said yesterday: “It does get a little bit heated and the Irish are very good at niggling and we have taken it a step too far in recent history. One of our advantages is being physical, as they don’t have that in their game, while they have the skills with the round ball. But we do need to try and influence the game with our physicality.”
Also speaking yesterday, assistant manager Ross Lyon says they should hold the physical advantage but feels Ireland can mix it too. “They surprised us with some of the size and shapes like they had some men who could really mark the ball. And the Irish, if you look at the history of Ireland, it’s steeped in fighting for their identity and standing their ground. I don’t think that’s an issue but fundamentally our game is more physical because of the tackling.
“But they have people who have played in the series and they’ll expect it and they’ll prepare their new guys to the squad as well. It’s something that we should be more natural (with), a lot more instinctively.”
Australia only came together as a group for the first time yesterday. Speaking before the session in Adelaide, IR debutant Ben Brown admitted “I haven’t even kicked a ball yet” having ended his honeymoon early in Iceland to play in the series.
Adelaide’s 7 News spoke with Ross Lyon and Ben Brown as the team prepare for this weekend’s match and the pair gave an insight into the atmosphere in the Australian camp.
Ticket sales for the game appear to be slow with the AFL commissioning some of the leading Australian players to promote a 24-hour flash ticket sale with admission priced at $18 (€12). Neither team will be able to train in the Adelaide Oval ahead of the clash as England cricketers are currently playing a pre-Ashes game against an Australian selection there, which will finish at the latest on Saturday. The longer grass required for the IR game has been cited as a problem by England.