Begley admits to uncertain future with Brisbane

IRISH AFL star Colm Begley has yet to finalise a new contract with the Brisbane Lions. Begley returned to his native Laois for the past month and admits he doesn’t know what his Australian future holds.

“It’s hard to negotiate when you are so far away,” he admitted. “Brisbane have made a few big signings this year and there’s a new coach and selection squad there.

“I’d love to stay with the Brisbane Lions, but there has been no indication from them. They’re still wondering whether they’re going to keep me or not.

“I’ve got my manager looking at other clubs, so if it comes to it I’ll have a look at other clubs around Melbourne or Sydney.”

Back to this weekend’s opening test, and Begley doesn’t want to see the hybrid game emasculated by change in the rules.

However, the former Laois star — the only current AFL signing to be involved in the Irish squad for Friday night’s opener in the Subiaco Oval — agrees there is no place for the type of violence witnessed in Croke Park two years ago.

“There is a lot of talk that everyone has to be really well behaved (this time),” he says.

“I saw the rules and there’s no bumping allowed and you want a bit of that.

“You don’t want lads going around the field in a lackadaisical manner.”

Making his debut in the 2006 series in Pearse Stadium and retained for the second test after doing so well, he says there was inevitability about the trouble which flared shortly after the throw-in. And for that, he suggests that the media should take their share of the blame.

“The first game was fair, but strong and aggressive. The papers and the public built it up, saying that the second test was going to be a lot more aggressive. We heard this and they (Australians) heard it too. It was a case of ‘who’s going to back down first?’ It was bound to happen. It nearly got out of hand with a few tackles and hits. This year I’ve looked at the Australian squad and there doesn’t seem to be any dirty players. There are a lot of aggressive players — just like in our team. Hopefully it is a competitive game and the series can live on.”

Admitting to surprise that the AFL agreed to the allow match suspensions (for serious offences) apply to AFL games, Begley has no doubt that players will “definitely be well behaved” as a result.

Impressed by the preparatory work done under the guidance of Trevor Brennan and Mike McGurn, he acknowledges that the Irish players need to be adept at tackling if they are to win back the Cormac McAnallen Cup.

“The tackle is a very hard thing to master.

“You spend your whole life not pulling a fella to the ground and then you’re told that’s what you have to do. Your instinct is still to stop and ‘corral’ or hit him with the shoulder because that’s what’s in your head. The Aussies are very good at the tackle, but we have the skill to do it.

“We need to get the ball into the forwards as quick as we can. We need to stay with them (Australia) because it always seems in the third quarter that we lose our minds and fall apart.”

That is down to a lack of mental toughness, he suggests. “It’s more than a lack of fitness.

“When I came out here first (in 2005) I was straight away one of the fittest. The GAA is training professionally at the moment so there’s no fitness issue. I think it’s a mentality issue because we lose a grasp of it, especially here in the heat and travelling away from home.”

Begley’s brother Joe is involved at home with the recruitment agency headed by Ricky Nixon.

Understandably, he is supportive of his brother’s involvement with the recruitment campaign in Ireland which has proved quite controversial, believing that it’s important to have an Irish input.

“I think it’s good to have someone Irish involved in the camp because you don’t want Irish lads getting taken advantage of,” says Begley.

“Maybe in the future, if things get too far out of hand, we could have our own Irish association.”

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