His future with the Geelong Cats looks more than secure but Zach Tuohy retains the ambition of wearing a senior Laois jersey for the first time.
Having moved from Carlton last year, the Portlaoise man was close to claiming an All-Australian this past season, the AFL’s equivalent of an All-Star.
Only turning 28 in December, Tuohy intends making the most of his remaining years in the AFL but donning the blue and white is a goal.
“I’m not sure where I’ll end up after football. I’m very happy here and there are a lot of opportunities but you heart never fully leaves (home). I’d like to go back and play with Laois at some stage. I’ve never played senior championship football with them so that’s still on the cards so as long as my body is still fit and able come retirement (from the AFL)...that’s still what I plan to do if things work out.”
At the same time, Tuohy, who has regularly returned home to line out for Portlaoise following the conclusion of the AFL season, is cognisant that Laois are at a low ebb as they shortly prepare for a Division 4 campaign in late January under new manager John Sugrue.
“I follow it a bit, I must admit my first few years I found it really hard to keep track of it. Not being able to play club and county killed me. Fingers crossed they start heading in right direction. It’s not going too well at the minute.”
For the next couple of weekends, Tuohy finds himself in direct opposition to his Geelong coach Chris Scott, who takes charge of Australia, and team-mates Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield. He’s been glad to pass on some information.
“I don’t know for sure how they will play but I have a reasonable idea. I know how they train and what their mentality is.”
Tuohy read with disappointment Port Adelaide player Chad Winyard’s comments last week about the Australians holding the upperhand because of their professionalism.
“That’s the mentality they bring into games like this. I think they are underselling just how hard and how professional GAA players are. I probably didn’t fully appreciate it until recent times as well. That gap won’t be as big as perhaps it was in the past.”
He senses Australia’s loss in the 2015 test in Croke Park will have stung a lot of their group.
“They are very proud players. That’s certainly one thing we have in common - patriotic if you like. Then anybody who plays at this level is very competitive so there’s no difference there. The defeat would have stung a bit… but they wouldn’t be dwelling on it. That wouldn’t be helpful for them if they were.”
Up to today, there was little in the way of media coverage in Australia about the series but Tuohy believes that will ramp up over the next couple of days and ahead of the second test in Perth.
While he accepts the concept is “always on the chopping block”, he highlighted: “Interest is starting to build because of the quality of the team they are sending out in the last couple of series. Nobody wants to watch it if it’s going to be a blow-out every year. It needs to be competitive all the time if the series is to survive. For those who don’t know back home, this team is pretty much the cream of AFL. These are all the big names and the interest is certainly growing. I don’t know what the crowd will be but I’d expect it to be a pretty healthy figure. If the two countires keep putting strong teams out I don’t see why it shouldn’t survive.”
That and avoiding the violence that marred the series in the mid-2000s.
“There’s always that tension but you can’t overstep the mark. Clearly, it went too far a few times... ’06 it was really bad. That’s a bit silly. It will probably be a bit more physical than but I don’t think it will spill over.”
Three years ago, the Australians belied their unfamiliarity with the round ball to score a fine win in the one-off test in Perth. Undoubtedly, it’s a difficulty for them yet Tuohy knows it’s one they can negotiate.
“It’s unnatural for them but they’re good players so they’re never terrible with the round ball. It’s not as comfortable for them but they adapt pretty well. It’s clearly the biggest benefit we have but highly competitive people normally find a way to tune up well enough.”
Clean bill of health for Ireland
Ireland should have a full clean bill of health for Sunday’s first test against Australia despite a travel bug outbreak in the camp.
Team physio Enda McGinley has revealed a small number of players had been vomiting and experienced diarrhoea. It comes as manager Joe Kernan already had slight injury concerns about Gary Brennan and Paul Geaney.
It is believed Donegal captain Michael Murphy and Roscommon midfielder Enda Smith were among the first to complain about the illness before a couple of other reported similar symptoms.
Affected players had been quarantined but there were high spirits as Ireland, including Murphy, took to the Glenelg Beach shortly after arriving in Adelaide before attending a welcome function yesterday.
None are expected to miss the game due to the outbreak.
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