Weather could hamper Aussie hopes, says Ibbotson

AUSTRALIA’S Garrick Ibbotson is praying for good weather at Croke Park tomorrow to help Australia finish off Ireland and regain the International Rules series title.

The Fremantle club man, 22, lined out at centre half-back in last weekend’s first test when the Australians showed an uncanny adeptness with the round ball.

Ibbotson revealed that their task of adjusting to the ball was made easier by the fact that the weather has been largely good since they arrived here.

He admitted that in wet and windy conditions the Aussies would struggle much more to keep control of the ball so will be keeping one eye on the weather forecast for tomorrow evening.

For the record, heavy rain has been forecast for the southern half of the country in the evening and it remains to be seen if Croke Park stays dry.

“It’s probably the biggest challenge for us coming over here, kicking a ball like that, but luckily for us the Irish weather has been really good so far,” said Ibbotson.

“We trained at Croke Park (on Wednesday night) and it was a bit chilly and slippery. It’s a new challenge for us when the ball gets like that.

“The last test being so dry helped us out a lot, so if the rain starts to come out it might be a little bit different.”

Despite those fears the fact that Australia have had a full week of uninterrupted practice should improve their kicking further.

They’ve also got a seven-point cushion to fall back on from the first test so it’s easy to see why bookies are making them strong favourites to claim a first series title since 2006.

Ibbotson said the AFL players are well used to forgetting about any advantage accrued during games and will get on with the task of simply winning the second test.

“Yeah, absolutely, that is something we talk about a lot back home because we have quarter-time score and half-time score,” he continued.

“Each quarter is a clean slate. We know here that we can’t afford to go in with the mindset that we are seven points up and that we can relax.

Australia are expected to include Geelong’s David Wojcinski and Travis Varcoe after missing the first test because of ankle and shoulder injuries. Defender Liam Picken is also okay despite a training ground collision with Kieren Jack.

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