Buckley backs Series sanctions

FORMER Australian captain Nathan Buckley supports the sanctions that have been put in place to compel players to adhere to the rules.

Now a selector with new manager Mick Malthouse, he agrees that every player needs to be answerable for his behaviour on the field.

“In the end, it reflects not just on themselves but the team they represent, the AFL in general and every Australian — because once you put on that coat of arms (jersey) you are representing your country,’’ Malthouse said yesterday. “We believe that the relationship between the two nations and the two codes needs to be fostered and encouraged and we believe in making individuals accountable for their actions, and they will be if they go outside the premise set both by the GAA and us.’’

Buckley shares the third highest total in history — 19 points in test history — with former Cork player John O’Driscoll (behind Colm O’Rourke with 26 points and AFL player Nathan Brown with 21). He loves the hybrid game.

“It’s a great honour because as a young fellow playing AFL or an Irish kid playing Gaelic, you never thought that you would represent your country against another nation,” says Buckley. “For me it was just a huge challenge to learn a new game and test yourself in another arena with a new set of team-mates against a new opposition.

“There is no better concept. It was really exciting for me to play over in Ireland in 1998, and captain Australia in ‘99. One of the greatest regrets of my career is that I did not play in a winning series.’’

He feels Australia will find kicking after the fourth handpass a challenge.

“Obviously the Australians teams in ‘05 and ‘06 went into the series with a tactic of running the ball more and trying to kick it less. It will have an effect on us because by the time you get your second or third handball, you will have to start thinking about what you are going to have to do with the ball rather than having unlimited handball.

“We have got a new coach and a new coaching panel so there will be different philosophies.”

He dismissed suggestion they wouldn’t be competitive: “Obviously our ‘run-and-carry’ is a major focus.

“But you have got to play the game on its merits and we think this squad are pretty well adept at that.’’

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