We've bridged physical gap with Aussies, insists Joe Kernan
Claims by Australia that they are fitter and stronger than the Irish squad they face in two International Rules Tests over the next 11 days have been strongly rejected by management and players.
"That's someone talking. I think the Australians know that the squad we've brought is big and mobile. So are they," said manager Joe Kernan. "I had a good laugh at that. The Irish boys have bridged that gap. It has turned more into a running game so the Aussies aren't as big or strong as they used to be.
"The GAA lads are getting more professional in what they do so I think it will be fairly even on that score. The Australians have some big boys but nothing our lads cannot handle," said Pearce Hanley, the 28-year-old Mayo man who has spent the last decade playing Australian Rules in Brisbane and Gold Coast.
Kernan and Hanley were responding to suggestions by Australian midfielder Chad Wingard that their status as professionals gives them a big advantage for the games in Adelaide this Sunday and in Perth on Saturday week.
"We've got some big boys to try and push them (Ireland) around. Whatever advantage we get, we're going to use," said Wingard. That raised the spectre of a return to the unruly clashes which marred the series for many years but Kernan does not believe it will happen.
"I can't see any of them intimidating the likes of Aidan O'Shea, Michael Murphy, Zac Tuohy or any of the other lads either. You can be physical in one way or dirty in another and, in fairness, I think the Australians have gone from that," said Kernan.
The Irish squad will train again today in Melbourne, prior to flying to Adelaide tomorrow.