'Off' year plan for Rules not unanimous - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Off' year plan for Rules not unanimous

30/10/2008 07:43:26 PM Comments (0)

International Rules officials are at odds with coaches and players over plans to take one year off out of every three in the series schedule.

Australian coach Mick Malthouse and captain Brent Harvey want the series played every year, with Irish manager Sean Boylan and skipper Sean Cavanagh also supporting annual Tests.

The AFL and Gaelic Athletic Association on Wednesday confirmed future series dates, provided on-field violence does not mar Friday night's second and deciding Test at the MCG.

They plan to have two Tests late next year in Ireland and have a year off in 2010, before resuming in 2011-12.

"I'd be disappointed, quite frankly ... now that I know what the players think about the game," Malthouse said when told of the plan.

Harvey echoed his support for annual matches, saying: "I agree with Mick totally - getting the chance to represent your country is a fantastic honour.

"Some young guy who might not get the chance two years later because of injury or form or whatever, if they don't get the opportunity to do that ... that will be pretty sad."

Ireland won last Friday's Test by one point and the aggregate score will decide the series winner.

Responding to ongoing debate about the merit of the international series, Malthouse said the players took it seriously and hopes Friday's Test will attract a big MCG crowd.

"I'd be very disappointed if we don't support our Australian players in a big match against an Irish guest," Malthouse said.

"There's a lot of negativity, which I think is both sides of the world.

"Let me tell you, it is fair-dinkum, these players aren't out there just to run around and take up two weeks of their life."

Malthouse added people should not assume the full-time Australians will show marked improvement, saying Ireland were strong.

Boylan also made it clear his team must play better to hold their lead.

"As sure as eggs are eggs, we're going to have to improve to survive, that's a certainty," he said.

Australia made two changes to their side, named Thursday, with Adelaide's Scott Thompson to miss out due to a leg injury.

Geelong defender Josh Hunt, drafted into the squad to replace ill AFL team-mate Max Rooke, will come into the side.

Australia will also replace Adelaide's Nathan Bock with North Melbourne key defender Michael Firrito in the key goalkeeping role.

Firrito made nine saves from 23 shots at training on Thursday, while Bock will stay in the side as a tall utility.

Essendon full-back Dustin Fletcher has excelled in the role, but he is unavailable through injury.

"Dustin Fletcher is not playing and we need to go forward - we want the game to go forward and we need to establish a good goalkeeper hopefully over the next few years.

"It could well be `Spud', so we'll give him that opportunity.

"There's no sin in what's happened with Nathan, he's one of the most delightful people to coach.

"We are not disguising the fact that the Irish will attack him and he knows that, his team-mates know that and it's not a one-man band."

Malthouse added the Australian defence let Bock down last week by not backing him up enough.

Ireland will name their line-up on Friday.

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