It may sound like the Australian Indigenous players are at the end of their tether, yet Geelong’s Mathew Stokes and Brisbane’s Ashley McGrath spoke positively about the International Rules Series, and Ireland, in Dublin yesterday morning.
That said, like Colm Begley the day before, the Aussies clearly feel the hybrid game could do with a little less touchy-feely stuff and a bit more crash-bang-wallop when the sides meet again at Croke Park this Saturday.
Of the legal variety, that is.
The thing is, potential suspensions back home and a handful of free kicks given away for some routine physical stuff in their warm-up against an Irish colleges side seem to be conspiring against Australia playing something close to their natural games.
“Our game is built on being physical and trying to intimidate players and get players good shepherds and hard tackles and we’d love to be able to do it, but at the moment the rules are that we aren’t allowed to,” said Stokes.
“I’d love to have a bit of physicality in the game, a bit of a push and shove. But we got warned before the series that if there was any of that, you’d get yellow or red cards and the last thing I want to do is come all the way from Australia, play a game here and get yellow-carded and let my teammates down. I’m not prepared to do that and that’s just the way it is.”
Any pent-up frustrations were only heightened by media reports that they went over the top with the partying on their designated night off down in Clare but Stokes is bullish about their chances of reeling in a 22-point deficit at the weekend.
“To be competitive with the Irish, we have to be consistent over four quarters. Our best was as good as Ireland’s but our worst was really bad. If we can do it for four quarters, we can win.”