By John Fogarty, Perth
Paul Earley believes his team are as prepared as they will ever be to capture the Cormac McAnallen Cup for a third consecutive time in Perth tomorrow (throw-up 9.45am Irish time).
The Roscommon man wasn't as certain about his side after they comprehensively beat a Victorian Football League side in Melbourne last Sunday.
However, he has been impressed by how well the side have trained during the week and now feels they're ready for the Australians.
“Yeah I think we are. We did some work after that game. Wednesday was the first time we had the full squad together for a training session when the two guys flew over after the Ulster Championship match, Chrissy (McKaigue) and Conor McManus, so, as I said, that was the first time we had everybody together and we had a good run out in Patersons Stadium.
"I think the work that we've done over the last few days has prepared us pretty well for tomorrow night but we had some things to do and some work to do after the Sandringham game because we had eight guys who had never played against an Australian Rules player before, and they needed to understand the game sense and the way an Australian Rules player plays the game.
"They took some learning from that and we had to do some work during the week in preparing them in particular for this game."
Earley reported a clean bill of health for his 25 players and confirmed only one goalkeeper will make the 23 match-day panel.
Niall Morgan began last Sunday's warm-up fixture although Paddy O'Rourke, who was last year's netminder, also saw some action after overcoming a bug. The players will be informed of the 23 at their Duxton Hotel this evening.
He also dismissed any suggestion Ireland will shy away from the physical stuff tomorrow. “We’ve practiced pretty hard over the last seven or eight weekends when we were together at home. You’d love to have a squad for a lot longer so that you can perfect the tackle and things like that. That’s not possible but we’ve worked hard at that.
"Some of our guys like the physicality of it and some of the players on the team would love to see a tackle similar to the Australian one in our Gaelic games, I don’t think that will happen.
"We have players who’ve played rugby in the past as well so we’ve worked reasonably well on that in training to prepare. But when you come up against the very best, it will be a different experience so they’ll have to be ready to take and give hits."
Earley's opposite number Alastair Clarkson revealed Australia want a test outside of the country next year. Nothing has been confirmed as of yet as the two organisations meet for talks about the concept's future on Sunday morning Perth time.
After it was confirmed the game is a 40,000-plus sell-out, he said: ""It makes it worthwhile, doesn't it? It’s only a one-test series and we want it to be more than that and so we want to reinvigorate the series so we get an opportunity to travel abroad next year.
"To get 40,000 people is why the AFL selected Perth as the venue for this test because they knew the people of Perth would support this game. To get 40,000 people here – there’s a great Irish contingent in this town but there’s also going to be an enormous Australian representation in the crowd."
Clarkson also played down the professional-amateur dichotomy between the sides. "Being professional doesn't really matter because both teams are very, very passionate and energetic about the way they want to go about the game. I think the amateur-professional thing is really only the fact our guys are actually paid because of our code allows it and it's not in Irish (game).
"In terms of the amount of time they spent preparing to play the game, I think you'd find it would be pretty similar. In actual fact, I think you'd find the Irish would spend a little bit more time preparing because they nearly play all year round.
"All we look at in terms of professional v amateur is the amount of preparation. You prepare to play the game and I reckon both codes prepare in a pretty similar sort of manner. So guess what, there's going to be a contest tomorrow afternoon. It's going to be great for the crowd, great for the participants, great for the coaches."
Meanwhile, it has also been confirmed that if the game is still tied at the end of normal time the next score will be deemed the winner.