Australia named a 25-man squad packed with youth and pace for the upcoming two-match series against Ireland at Subiaco Oval on October 24 and the MCG on October 31.
Malthouse said he was mindful that the spirit in which this year’s matches were played would be crucial to the hybrid game’s survival.
But that did not mean Australia would shy away from seeking to exploit their physical edge against Irish players not accustomed to hard tackles and bumps.
“The coaches, the player group, will be very much aware of the fact that for this series to continue (it depends on) the way we conduct ourselves,” Malthouse said.
“And also the Irish, let’s not forget it takes two to tango and there’s going to be two sides out there.
“We haven’t gone out of our way not to pick aggressive players.
“There are rules in place that state that you can tackle and you can bump when the opportunity arises, but you’ve still got to run hard at the football.
“What you don’t want to do is be compromised in the mind, thinking we’ve got to tread very lightly, in fact you’ve still got to have a massive assault on the ball.”
Malthouse said he could not ask players brought up on a highly physical game to suddenly rein in their aggressive instincts, although he said a reputation for sportsmanship had been a factor in the selection process.
“From five years of age when they’ve learned to kick it, they’ve learned to take a tackle and learned to lay a bump and learned how to go and get the football,” he said.
“So that’s not going to change overnight, we don’t want that to change.
“But ... one of the reasons why I’ve taken the job on, I believe that we have a fundamental obligation to ensure that this series is continued because we’ve played in the right spirit and we’ve conducted ourselves in the right manner and we’ve played to win.”
Cavanagh, meanwhile, hopes these games will be different to the last Series.
“I don’t think there was too much football played. It was probably a low point in my career.”
“You are standing there and thinking, ‘this isn’t sport anymore.’
“Hopefully things will be different this time with the new video ref in from South Africa and the Australians more or less committed to the fact that they are going out to play football. Whenever this series is played well it’s probably one of the more enjoyable games to play.
“I’d be confident that we can compete with them — both in the physical aspect as well as playing football!’’
Ireland named a 27-man squad on Wednesday, with Brisbane’s Colm Begley the only AFL player among them.
AUSTRALIA: N Bock (Adelaide), M Boyd (Western Bulldogs), J Brennan (Brisbane), C Brown (Hawthorn), S Burgoyne (Port Adelaide), M Campbell (North Melbourne), R Crowley (Fremantle), M Firrito (North Melbourne), N Foley (Richmond), B Harvey (North Melbourne), R Hayden (Fremantle), L Montagna (St Kilda), D Motlop (Port Adelaide), M Murphy (Carlton), M Osborne (Hawthorn), S Pendlebury (Collingwood), D Petrie (North Melbourne), D Rodan (Port Adelaide), M Rooke (Geelong), B Sewell (Hawthorn), K Simpson (Carlton), A Selwood (West Coast), D Thomas (Collingwood), S Thompson (Adelaide), D Wells (North Melbourne).