Australia boss lashes out at first-Test criticism
AUSTRALIAN manager Mick Malthouse has lashed out at the widespread criticism of the first International Rules Test ahead of tonight's deciding second game at Croke Park (7.0).
"Quite frankly, I think it's ridiculous," he said. "I'm forever bemused that there's a tendency through the media to suggest that it's lame and tame -- yet we bemoan what happened five and six years ago."
The low-scoring nature and absence of any shuddering tackles in last Saturday's 47-40 Australian victory, saw the latest version of the international game decried as being overly sanitised.
But Malthouse is furious at the way it was dismissed. "It certainly didn't lack any endeavour from either side that I saw, yet the more you read about it (the reaction) seems to have been very negative. Maybe that was because it wasn't the result the Irish wanted," he said.
"When the ball is moving and passed off quickly, big hits don't happen and big hits don't make a hero of anyone. It was a low-scoring game because the players played pretty much one-on-one football and there were some strong tackles from both sides.
"This game has got to go forward with the right attitude and both teams should be complimented for the way they get on, have respect for one another and still play a hard brand of football."
Irish boss Anthony Tohill was less exercised by the criticism and made it clear that his side will not be resorting to rough-house tactics tonight as they attempt to overcome a seven-point deficit and win the series on aggregate.
"We will not be distracted from what we're about," he said. "We're about playing football within the rules of the game in a passionate way. There's probably going to be 60,000 in Croke Park, so there isn't that much wrong with it.
"There's no honour in winning by foul or over-aggressive or violent means and people need to differentiate between physicality and violence."
He added: "There's loads of physicality in the game, lots of tackles in it, but the pace of this game is way ahead of GAA. It's probably a faster game than the AFL even, because there's no rucks, so it's constantly on the move and it's more difficult to make tackles."
Ireland are boosted by the availability of 2010 All Stars Benny Coulter (Down) and Michael Shields (Cork) for tonight's second game, which means Kildare's Emmet Bolton and Offaly's Niall McNamee return to the standby panel.
Meanwhile, the GAA confirmed yesterday that they have agreed dates for next year's Tests Down Under (October 22 and 28) and for a new two-year series to start in 2013.