Tuesday 24 October 2017

Aussies put faith in mobility to combat Tohill's 'hard unit'

THE noises coming out of Australia prior to the International Rules series seemed to indicate that the tourists had undergone a re-think in terms of the type of player best suited to the hybrid game.

Out had gone players with big physical presence, replaced instead by quick, athletic types who were able to move the ball quickly.

On Wednesday at Páirc Uí Rinn, this tactic change looks to have been successful as Australia enjoyed a 105-12 win against a UCC/CIT combination.

Jarrad McVeigh, one of the Aussies' stars, feels that such a style is necessary to beat Ireland, but says that big players still have a part to play.

"We've got a lot of running players who are very fit and fast," he said. "Some of the Irish players are similar, so we'll have to combat that. We've got a few big players, like Jack Riewoldt, who are very mobile as well. We're trying to move the football with our hands a lot more.

"That's a strength of ours and with our fitness, we think we can run a lot harder and faster. We're definitely well prepared for Saturday."

One of the fears on Anthony Tohill's Irish side had been that the too much violence from the Australians could mar the series, as occurred in 2006, the last time they visited. McVeigh, though, feels that things will be hard but fair.

"It's going to be physical, but we're just going hard for the ball," he says. "If we do that, we think we can win."

A big factor in winning for Australia will be adapting to the round ball. While that was not a problem on Wednesday, it did take some acclimatising.

"It has," McVeigh agreed. "We haven't had much time to practise, only three or four sessions, so it was good on Wednesday night to get a bit of pressure with tackling and that."

A 93-point victory may not seem to be the perfect way to prepare for the pressure of a Test match, but McVeigh insists: "The scoreboard didn't tell the full story.

"They were quite fast on their feet and turned us inside out a few times when they got the ball running forward -- we're going to have to combat that; we're up against a hard unit."

A hard unit full of players with AFL experience, none more so than McVeigh's Sydney Swans team-mate Tadhg Kennelly.

"I play with Tadhg and I've played with Brendan Murphy also -- they're very, very good players," he says.

"They're used to the physical side of it and I'm sure they'll be firing their players up."

Irish Independent

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