AUSSIE RULES scout Ricky Nixon will be joined by recruiters from a number of AFL clubs in Maynooth today where he will run the rule over the young footballers in this year’s Sigerson Cup final.
Nixon’s Flying Start agency will hold its latest AFL trial camp in Gormanston College, Co Meath on Wednesday when between 15 and 25 of Gaelic football’s brightest talents will be put through their paces.
Among them, according to Nixon, will be a handful of “significant players” who have knocked back AFL offers in recent years but who have since had a change of heart.
Four clubs – Geelong, Richmond, Western Bulldogs and St Kilda – will be represented and the scouts will also attend hurling and schools games over a fortnight.
“First of all, I better put on my wig and balaclava so that no one recognises me,” said Nixon at a specially convened press conference in Dublin city centre yesterday.
“We have kept open five places for the camp on Wednesday for players that we will see over the weekend and that we would like to invite along.”
Nixon expressed disappointment that some of the bigger universities were eliminated early from this year’s Sigerson competition but some club reps still took in yesterday’s semi-finals in Maynooth.
While the recruitment of Irish players has intensified, it has also become more scientific. According to Nixon, the days of bringing players straight into AFL training are over.
DVD information packs detailing everything from skills, to strength and conditioning are now the norm due to what Nixon believes is an ever-widening gap in fitness levels between the GAA and AFL in recent years.
“I can tell you now that the days are over of selling the dream, of going around on a surf board every second day and bikini clad girls and everything else. That’s gone because the gap between AFL footy and Gaelic footy is just too big now so we just can’t sell that crap anymore. It has got to be fair dinkum.”
On his last visit back in October, Nixon was again vilified for admitting that the recession would make his job here in Ireland all the easier.
This time around, he was equally up front about another factor which seems to have loaded the dice in his favour – Tommy Walsh’s switch from Kerry to St Kilda late last year.
“The last time I mentioned about the economy, I was painted as an evil man. Put it this way, Tommy Walsh coming, I have not had a kid who has knocked me back since Tommy came out.
“Whether you see that as significant or not, I don’t know. I do. It has probably opened the floodgates for players.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved