Sunday 11 December 2016

'International rules merits more tests and New York tie'

Michael Verney

Published 20/11/2015 | 02:30

Australia's Brendan Goddard
Australia's Brendan Goddard

Australian ace Brendon Goddard believes the introduction of further international rules tests - including a proposed New York fixture - would be a fruitful move for the hybrid game.

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A stirring Irish second-half comeback 12 months ago, which resulted in a 10-point loss after earlier trailing by 28, left the Perth crowd eager for more.

The 'one-match series' had a sense of unfinished business and Essendon's Goddard would welcome further tests, including a possible trip to the Big Apple.

He said: "I'm sure Ireland would have liked a second crack at the game and I think two games would be more reflective. The better team always comes out on top and hopefully one day we'll play in two or three tests.

"It's a great concept playing in New York. By reports the market is there with the large expat community of both Australians and Irish. It's just about logistics and finding suitable facilities.

Promotion

"Is it deserving? I'd like to see it happen anyway. I don't think there's any harm in it from GAA and AFL points of view. It's great promotion for both games."

It has been mooted that an American selection could get involved in the series but Goddard, whose two previous rules appearances were during the "infamous Brendan Fevola tour" in 2006 and last year, is against further expansion,

"I truly believe it's an Ireland-Australian concept. I don't think it should fall outside of those two teams," he said. "I don't think anyone else would be capable of doing it but I am keen to see the game move outside of Australian or Irish shores."

The AFL radically reconsidered their approach to the series in the wake of 2013's 101-point annihilation with Goddard describing this year's All-Australian squad as "pretty special".

Aussie manager Alastair Clarkson, a four-time Premiership-winning coach, has assembled an elite squad with prodigous talents like Patrick Dangerfield and Dyson Heppell.

On the other end of the scale is 40-year-old Dustin Fletcher. The two-time All-Australian has cut out a niche as goalkeeper and tomorrow's game will be a fitting retirement after a remarkable 400 AFL appearances.

Fletcher will renew acquaintances with former team-mate Michael Quinn, who has a busy weekend ahead with his club Killoe and with Ireland. "I used to pick Quinny up every day for two years, he lived close by and he's a quality person," he said.

"He used to speak to me a lot about playing for his county of Longford and his local club. It didn't sort of work out for him in Melbourne but it sounds like he's done a pretty good job over here."

Speaking of Irish AFL recruits, Goddard and Fletcher have watched Tyrone teenager Conor McKenna at close quarters. The former Red Hand minor seized his chance with Essendon late last season with some promising performances and Goddard expects further improvement.

"Conor is a stubborn little competitor in a good way, so I don't reckon he's willing to just give up and come back to Ireland in his comfort zone," he said

"You do see a lot of Pearce Hanley in Conor at a young age. Conor is a great kid and he has as much a chance as any Irish kid I've seen that early in his career of making it in the AFL."

Irish Independent

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