We'll be on our best behaviour: Aussie boss
AUSTRALIA have promised to be on their best behaviour in the two International Rules Tests with Ireland and not to return to the heavy-handed approach which almost led to the collapse of the series in 2006.
The last two series in 2008/10 were played in a good spirit and Australian manager Rodney Eade has promised a continuation of sound discipline while playing "aggressively and competitively".
He also said that he didn't mean to be in any way disparaging when he remarked in an interview that Gaelic football hadn't advanced much in 100 years. He explained that he meant it in terms of how Australian Rules had undergone far more rule changes than Gaelic football.
"It was a generic statement. It certainly wasn't made as a criticism (of Gaelic football)," he said.
Eade insisted that good discipline would be a key part of Australia's strategy.
"We've spoken about playing in the spirit of the game. Obviously, both teams will play to win, but we need to be within the rules. We'd like good relations to continue between the two countries -- we certainly don't want to endanger that," he said.
Australia had a practice game yesterday against an Irish selection drawn from clubs in the Victoria area and looked quite comfortable with the round ball.
Only four of them played in the series last year, but the new-look squad looked quite sharp, especially with their passing and kicking.
"We're still getting used to the round ball -- we made a few mistakes with it early on, but we got better. We have selected guys who can run and some out of left-field who are good kickers," said Eade.
They will have a 6' 8" goalkeeper in Mark Nicoski, who looked most impressive in what is an unfamiliar role since there's no corresponding position in Australian Rules.
Eade said that he saw tackling and applying pressure on the player in possession as areas where Australia should have an advantage, while he is also hoping that the superior fitness of professional players will tell in the long run.
Four of Ireland's back-room team, Eoin Liston, Kieran McGeeney, Kevin O'Brien and Sean Og de Paor were on a spying mission at the Etihad Stadium for Australia's warm-up game prior to joining the Irish squad for a training session.
The stadium roof will be closed for the first Test on Friday (9.45am Irish time) as rain is forecast.