IRISH International Rules manager Sean Boylan is concerned about the ability of his side to adapt to the interchange rule in Friday night’s opening test against Australia, (Perth, RTÉ Two, 11.10am).
Admitted the former Meath manager: “It has been a huge problem (in the past) because they are so good at it. It’s part and parcel of their game. There’s still that thing if you don’t start or you’re taken off after a couple of minutes the Irish psyche kicks in and you think ‘I’m not that bad.’ It’s a question of getting the head right.’’
Yesterday morning 20 players (Brisbane-based Colm Begley from Laois joined them later) trained in the morning in Fremantle in temperatures exceeding 30C. “It’s lovely to have the sun on your back, a big change from home. The lads have time to acclimatise and they will be sensible about it. They won’t be looking to get suntans!”
Boylan remains upbeat about the series, due to the work done in clarifying the rules and the mindset of the Australians. And, to this end, they will meet socially at a formal dinner tomorrow night.
“The idea came from myself because that was the one thing that upset me greatly the last time. Lads get so few opportunities to meet at an international level and it was a shame that telephone or e-mails weren’t exchanged the last time. You’d like to think that friendships forged through this series could last forever.”
Agreeing that it will be all about getting the balance right, Boylan said that his players won’t mind the physical element as long as the game is contested under the rules of fair play and they feel “safe”. In this context, he feels the work they have done with former Irish international rugby player Trevor Brennan and ex-Irish fitness coach Mike McGurn on tackling will benefit them considerably.
“The Aussies are the ones who generally know how to tackle and tackle well. That’s one of their fortes.
“We have done a lot of drills, so it’s just trying to get used to that. I think we’ll cope well. If goodwill is anything to go by, from what I hear from here and the way it’s been at home, everybody wants to make this very competitive. It’s a given that the refereeing has to be up to scratch, but with the work AFL and the GAA have done on clarifying the interpretation of rules, I think that’s going to happen. It’s a great game if we do it right.’’
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