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Clarkson to coach All Australians in IR game

Kate  Salemme  April 23, 2014 10:15 AM

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Hawthorn Coach Alastair Clarkson poses for a photograph during an afl.com.au photo shoot at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on February 10, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

ALASTAIR Clarkson will coach the Australian team in a one-Test 2014 International Rules Series against Ireland in a re-vamped version, the AFL and GAA announced on Wednesday morning.

As the current All Australian and Premiership coach, Clarkson will take the reins of a team made up of the AFL’s best players, with only those who have been named All Australian in their career eligible to be selected.

Hawthorn Captain Luke Hodge, a three-time All Australian (2005, 2008, 2010) has been involved in the shaping of the new format for the game and will play if injury and circumstance permits.

Hodge was part of a group of high-profile AFL players who were part of the discussion, with Travis Boak, Patrick Dangerfield, Darren Glass, Steve Johnson, Nic Naitanui, Scott Pendlebury, Nick Riewoldt, Joel Selwood and Jobe Watson all involved.

The game will be played at Patersons Stadium in Perth on Saturday 22 November.

AFL General Manager, Football Operation, Mark Evans said the idea behind limiting selection to All Australians is to field a more competitive side.

“Ireland’s players have proved extremely keen and competitive in recent times and so we simply cannot afford to put forward anyone less than the AFL’s best players,” he said.

“By limiting selection to All Australian players, by scheduling the Test later in the year at the end of most players’ leave, and by amending the rules we believe we will field a strong and competitive Australian side that will re-establish the event’s standing in the eyes of fans.

“The calibre of AFL players and officials involved is clearly a vital component and the early personal commitment and enthusiasm of so many of the competition’s big names augurs well for the future of the Series.

“We have worked hard with the players to get this right, and if successful, it may well be the blueprint for the International Rules Series going forward.”

The game could see the modification of some of the rules seen in the path, with the AFL and GAA confirming discussions had taken place so a broader range of AFL player types would be able to compete successfully.