Australia backing New York International Rules test option

Australia’s players are fully behind the drive to stage an International Rules test in New York, a concept that will be put before the GAA this afternoon for approval.
Australia backing New York International Rules test option

Top ranking AFL and GAA officials are to meet to discuss the idea with Australia pushing for a first test outside of the two competing countries.

Series veteran Dustin Fletcher, who will retire from all playing activities as a 40-year old after tomorrow’s Croke Park test, and Brendon Goddard, who played for Australia in 2006 and 2014, have both thrown their significant weight behind the concept.

Australia’s touring party of players staged a five-day training camp in the Big Apple prior to arriving in Ireland last Monday and were encouraged by the idea of playing a full test there, possibly as early as next year.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Goddard. “By all reports, the market is there with the large expat community of both Australians and Irish. It’s just about logistics and trying to find a field big enough with the facilities, the stands and so forth.

“I’d like it to be [brought there]. I don’t think there’s any harm in it, both from a GAA point of view and the AFL. It’s a great promotion for both games. I think it [International Rules] is probably more reflective of your game but I think there’s a lot of benefits for both parties by doing it.”

Goddard ruled out the suggestion that Australia might take on a local selection in the US if Ireland aren’t willing to play.

“I truly believe it’s an Ireland-Australia concept,” he continued. “I don’t think it should fall outside of those two teams. I don’t think anyone would be capable of doing it anyway. I’m keen to see the game move outside of Australian or Ireland shores.”

Fletcher agreed with Goddard and said the key issue would be finding a suitable venue for the international test.

“There’s no doubt it could work, if you get the right place to play,” said Fletcher, Australia’s goalkeeper.

“We were lucky enough to have five days in New York and a lot of Irish pubs and Irish people were walking around the place and obviously a lot of ex-Australians are over there, ex-pats who I think would enjoy it.”

The Australian players were speaking from their hotel on Dublin’s southside. They’d initially planned to train at Parnell Park on Dublin’s north side but cancelled the session.

An AFL official explained that this was due to a mixture of getting enough out of a Croke Park session the previous day and also not wanting to be caught up in the heavy city traffic.

It was the second time inside a week that Australia have declined to use GAA facilities which were made available to them having deemed the surface at a venue in New York last weekend unsuitable.

Fletcher admitted it would be emotional for him when tomorrow evening’s test concludes and his career is officially over having already played his last AFL game.

“I’ve been playing footie at club level and for Australia for 23 years, since I was 17, so I’m finishing now over in Ireland but it’s exciting as well, Croke Park, I’m looking forward to it.”

Goddard, an Essendon club mate of Fletcher’s, believes the International Rules concept generally is ‘back on track’ after Australia’s decision from 2014 to field a strong team against Ireland.

He accepted that the series was at stake after Australia sent over an all-indigenous team in 2013 which was defeated by 101 points.

“I think we felt that, we talked about that, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t,” said Goddard.

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