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Aussies announce 9 debutants in 17-man squad to face Ireland in International Rules Series

Richmond sensation Dustin Martin is a notable absentee in an otherwise strong Aussie squad.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE AFL HAS announced a 17-man squad featuring nine International Rules debutants for November’s two-test series versus Ireland.

Gold Coast superstar Gary Ablett, who’ll line out alongside Zach Tuohy for Geelong next year, is among the nine names with no international experience, while Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury returns to the Aussie fold for the first time since the 2008 series.

“The lure of playing for Australia is fairly strong. We don’t get the opportunity to do that in our code so any chance we can to do that, and that’s why guys are so keen now,” Pendlebury said.

“It’s probably moved up another level with having a selection criteria around All-Australian. It really is the chance to play with the best of the best,” he continued, referring to the new requirement for a player to have been chosen as an ‘All-Australian’ (the AFL equivalent of an All-Star) at some point in their career in order to be considered for this international squad.

Fremantle’s Nathan Fyfe, Greater Western Sydney’s Toby Greene, Melbourne’s Michael Hibberd, Adelaide’s Rory Laird and Rory Sloane, Essendon’s Zach Merrett, Port Adelaide ruckman Paddy Ryder and Brisbane’s Dayne Zorko are the other first-time members in a squad which will be coached by Geelong boss Chris Scott, with assistance from his brother Brad Scott as well as Fremantle’s Ross Lyon.

With a leadership group set to be announced closer to the first Test at Adelaide Oval on 12 November, he AFL have also confirmed that there could be up to four players added to the squad depending on selected members’ availability.

One notable absentee is Richmond sensation Dustin Martin, who accrued a plethora of individual awards at season’s end. The 26-year-old Tiger “expressed some strong interest in the concept” per Aussie coach Luke Ball, but ultimately decided that his body required rest after the toils of a long season.

Of the Australian outfit, head coach Scott told the media: “selection in the Australian side is about both recognising the great players in our competition, and those players who are emerging as stars who will dominate the seasons to come.

As selectors, we needed to balance the team with players who have represented Australia before, and understand the game and how it is played against Ireland, and also look to the next generation of elite players who deserve the opportunity to represent us on an international stage.

Scott continued: “All-Australian selection at some point in a player’s career was a pre-requisite for consideration, as we also believe that the best players want to learn from each other and provide an environment where they can be better again when they return to their clubs.”

Australia squad to play Ireland

Gary Ablett (Gold Coast), All-Australian 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 (vice-captain), 2011 (captain), 2012 (vice-captain), 2013 (vice-captain), 2014. Never previously played International Rules Series (IRS).

Eddie Betts (Adelaide), All-Australian 2015, 2016, 2017. IRS representative 2010, 2015.

Travis Boak (Port Adelaide), All-Australian 2014, 2014. IRS representative 2014.

Shaun Burgoyne (Hawthorn), All-Australian 2006. IRS representative 2008.

Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong), All-Australian 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017. IRS representative 2010, 2014, 2015.

Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle), All-Australian 2014, 2015. Never previously played IRS.

Brendon Goddard (Essendon), All-Australian 2009, 2010. IRS representative 2006, 2014, 2015.

Toby Greene (Greater Western Sydney). All-Australian 2006. Never previously played IRS.

Michael Hibberd (Melbourne), All-Australian 2017. Never previously played IRS.

Rory Laird (Adelaide), All-Australian 2017. Never previously played IRS.

Zac Merrett (Essendon), All-Australian 2017. Never previously played IRS.

Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood), All-Australian 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. IRS representative 2008.

Paddy Ryder (Port Adelaide), All-Australian 2017. Never previously played IRS.

Joel Selwood (Geelong), All-Australian 2009, 2010, 2013 (captain), 2014 (captain), 2016 (captain), 2017. IRS representative 2014 (captain).

Rory Sloane (Adelaide), All-Australian 2016. Never previously played IRS.

Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide), All-Australian 2013, 2015. IRS representative 2014.

Dayne Zorko (Brisbane Lions), All-Australian 2017. Never previously played IRS.

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Originally published 8:09 PM, 12 Oct 2017

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