Irish, AFL to discuss player poaching - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Irish, AFL to discuss player poaching

By Grace Uhr 08/10/2008 08:14:03 PM Comments (0)

The future of the International Rules series and the poaching of Irish players by AFL clubs will be discussed by Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) officials at a meeting with their AFL counterparts next week.

The viability of the hybrid concept was called into question following Irish protests over on-field violence during Australia's 2006 tour of Ireland.

But after conciliatory talks, the series will resume later this month with a two-match series in Perth and Melbourne and a return series in Ireland in 2009.

Beyond that, the future of the concept is uncertain, with GAA and AFL officials to hold discussions in Melbourne next Wednesday.

GAA president Nicky Brennan was confident this year's series could go ahead without major incident.

"It's a physical series, I don't expect the whole series to go through without some incident or another, that's just the nature of physical sport, but I think there is goodwill on the part of the Australians," Brennan told reporters at Ireland's squad announcement in Dublin.

"They want to do it well and they want to do it right and I think that they will play their part. We're certainly keen to play our part."

The AFL has moved to help ease Irish concerns by agreeing that suspensions arising from International Rules matches will now be served during the following home and away season.

While Australia named a squad packed with young, small players on Wednesday, Ireland went the other way, naming a squad of bigger, more experienced players they believe can withstand a physical barrage from the Australians.

"We prepare as best we can because it is a physical contact sport and we want a physical contact sport, but we want it fair and we want no misunderstanding," Irish manager Sean Boylan said.

"I want this to be a really good series of football, I want it to be really entertaining, I want it to establish this series again as a great game, one of the great new games of football.

"We can all sit down here and start apportioning blame about things that happened before or we can learn from what happened before."

The Irish have appointed ex-Irish rugby international Trevor Brennan to improve their tackling.

"You learn the lessons as best you can," Boylan said.

"You just see the way in the AFL the game has evolved and the mobility of the players.

"I'd like to think that we've learned from that in that we can put our game together in such a way that we can be really competitive and if they beat us, grand, at least we'll know that we've prepared well for it."

GAA officials will also bring up concerns at next week's meeting over the increasing presence of AFL recruiters seeking to lure youngsters from their amateur competition to the professional Australian code.

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