Thursday 23 November 2017

Ireland captain O'Shea issues blunt warning to Australia over first test physicality

11 November 2017; The Eirgrid Ireland team captain Aidan O'Shea with the Cormac McAnallen Cup and the Australian captain Shaun Burgoyne during the Australia v Ireland - Virgin Australia International Rules Series 1st Test pre match photocall on the pedestrian bridge outside the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Australia. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
11 November 2017; The Eirgrid Ireland team captain Aidan O'Shea with the Cormac McAnallen Cup and the Australian captain Shaun Burgoyne during the Australia v Ireland - Virgin Australia International Rules Series 1st Test pre match photocall on the pedestrian bridge outside the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Australia. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

International Rules captain, Aidan O’Shea has fired out a blunt warning to Australia that if want to play it tough in the first test in the Adelaide Oval tomorrow (5.10am Irish time), Ireland will be ready for them.

“I’m not really concerned if they want to bring it physical - we have the ability to handle that. If that’s the route they want to go, then that’s fine, but we’ll be making sure we’re as proficient as we can be in the skills of our game to really punish them on the scoreboard.

“We were at dinner with them last night and there’s no real significant difference between both sides from a physical conditioning point of view. They’re professional athletes but we match up pretty well. We’ve got some big boys around the middle and some good runners, good speed, and we’ve got some great scorers,” he said.

There have been hints all week that Australia plan to use brute force in an effort to wear Ireland down, sparking fears of a return to the bad old days of violence and mayhem.

Australian manager, Chris Scott attempted to dispel those fears at the final pre-match press conference, stating that while it was physical game boundaries apply.

“In terms of overall physicality, we think the game stands up and doesn’t require over-physicality to make it a good spectacle. We think we have an obligation to play the game in the right spirit so this series can not only continue but thrive,” he said.

Irish manager, Joe Kernan said that the bad experiences of the past were ‘well behind us” and expressed confidence that the two games (the second test is in Perth next Saturday) would be played in a good spirit.

“Both organisations (GAA and AFL) have laid down the law. We want it physical but we want it within the rules,” he said.

O’Shea played down concerns over playing in intense heat (34 degree temperatures are expected).

“We’re not going to use it as excuse,” he said.

The Mayo man, who is captaining Ireland for the first time, expects Australia to play a high press game, similar to what they did in Croke Park two years ago.

"They’ll push (Brendon) Goddard out from goal and use him as an extra defender and try and press our kick-outs really high and try and spring their attacks from there. It would be ideal for us to try and win the ball and put pressure on their defence early so they can’t cover back in numbers. We got success in that two years ago," he said.

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