Jarrod Harbrow tussles with Louth youngster Ciaran Byrne. INPHO/Donall Farmer
International Rules

International Rules future in doubt unless Aussie stars get onside

GAA and AFL to examine possible changes in a bid to convince Australia’s superstars to play.

THE INTERNATIONAL RULES series is set to be scrapped unless Australia can convince their star names to play in future tests.

Officials from the GAA and the AFL met in Dublin this week to discuss the future of the series ahead of tonight’s second test in Croke Park.

Ireland lead 57-32 against an Australian side made up entirely of Indigenous players.

Lance Franklin, the superstar forward who recently signed a $10 million contact with the Sydney Swans, is in the visitors’ squad but the majority of the AFL’s big names have stayed away in recent years.

League operations manager Mark Evans admitted that these players hold the key to the series’ future. If they cannot be convinced to come on board, next year’s proposed tests in Australia could be in jeopardy.

Evans said: “We think that the success of the series and the future of the series is dependent on getting the best players to participate from a spectacle point of view, from an interest point of view, and for the contest.

Over the last couple of series I don’t think the Australians have had their very best team. Some of our very best players aren’t overly suited to the hybrid game so we talked about whether there can be some modifications to the game that might assist that.

The possibility of scheduling future series in November, or even in January or February, was discussed as was the introduction of more physical elements from the Australian code including ‘bumping’ and ‘shepherding’.

But nothing was set in stone, Evans said, and both parties are due to resume discussions in the coming months.

“If we feel that there can be a slight amendment to the rules that would allow some of the bigger AFL players to participate, it might be that we could go back to the All-Australian side representing Australia which seems to have been the best era for this game.

There’s some physicality in the game but I think the opinion of that is that we have been very protective given the recent history of the game 10 or so years ago.

Maybe a small amount more of that would be good for the game. It’s just about getting the right balance between the two codes.

He added: “I know the GAA have expressed their desire to look at options for next year and we’ve looked at potential venues, but again it will come back to whether the AFL can hold up to its side of the bargain and get the commitment of the best players to play the game.”

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