Angry Aussie boss Eade declares war on Ireland
WHETHER it's the voice of frustration or a cry from the heart, there can be no doubt that Australian coach Rodney Eade has dramatically raised the temperature for Friday's second International Rules Test with Ireland.
Promising to "take the gloves off" and dispense with the "nice football" which left Australia embarrassed after a record 44-point defeat last Friday night, Eade's remarks will have been noted by both the GAA and AFL, who worked hard to save the series after violence in 2005 and 2006 threatened its future.
He has also put enormous pressure on the Australian players after questioning their fitness levels and their attitude to international duty.
"I reckon a few blokes here aren't fit enough," he told a post-match team meeting. The Australian media were allowed attend pre-game, half-time and post-game meetings, giving a unique insight into Eade's interaction with the squad, which was particularly interesting after such a heavy defeat.
"If you're going to play for Australia, it's nice to think about taking the jumper, tucking it away and saying to the grandkids: 'I played for Australia'. But if you turn up and you're not in good enough shape and you can't run, it's disgraceful," said Eade.
"You're taking it (Australian jersey) under false pretences. There are a few in here who aren't fit enough. On holidays, yeah (it's the AFL's closed season) don't do anything. I'll turn up and get the jumper. We need to do something about it in the next game," said Eade.
Apparently, he then raised his voice as he turned to the physical intensity issue which he clearly wants addressed for the second game. The professional Aussies would always expect that they could bully Ireland's amateur players in a direct confrontation but they never came close on Friday night.
Instead, it was Ireland who won the physical battles which, when combined with their superior kicking skills and slick movement, left Australia a beaten docket from very early on.
Eade wants a response and will goad his players into delivering it.
"We need to be aggressive," he said.
"I'll take responsibility for that. We don't want punching and whatever but we're playing aggressively. We played nice footy tonight. We need to tackle aggressively, bowl them over. The umpires will be consistent. Every time we marked, they drove us into the ground. We let them play on, we didn't learn.
"We're making a stand. We're not going on holiday to Gold Coast. We're doing something about it," he said.
He told his players in the pre-match brief that the first 8-10 minutes of each quarter (18 minutes) would be "hell for leather," but that Australia were fitter and would wear Ireland down in the closing minutes of each segment.
He was wrong. Ireland won all four quarters and showed no signs of wilting over the closing minutes in any of them. Presumably, that's what led to Eade's post-match questioning of fitness levels.
He has placed the onus to rescue Australia's pride on the players and while it's next to impossible for them to retain the Cormac McAnallen Cup (they would need to overwhelm Ireland by 45 points), the target is to win the second Test.
"We made mistakes -- learn from them," he said.
"Don't just accept it and say it's part of playing with a round ball. That's bull. You go back and play AFL footy and you make mistakes. You learn, you'd hope so. If you do the same thing over and over, you're going to get the same result. YOU need to change it. YOU need to do something about it. YOU need to take responsibility."
Eade's instruction to be more physical on Friday, and that he will take responsibility for it, raises questions as to how far his players will go in their attempt to assert themselves as professional athletes up against amateurs.
But Ireland manager Anthony Tohill isn't concerned by Eade's remarks. "It's a hard physical game; that's what we've always said. We've no problem with it being hard and physical as long as it's within the rules," said Tohill.
Eade's comments are likely to boost the attendance on Friday. The Metricon Stadium in Carrara, Queensland, holds 25,000 but there were fears of a small attendance after Australia's poor showing last Friday."
It now remains to be seen how, in the light of Eade's promise to be more physical, the public respond to the first ever International Rules test in Gold Coast.