Aussies respect Ireland: Tadhg
Kerryman says days of 'looking down' on boys in green are over
TADHG KENNELLY has admitted that the 'hard man' attitude of some of his Aussie Rules colleagues in previous International Rules series irritated him at the time but reckons his own success Down Under and that of other Irish exports has served to increase the levels of respect the Australians have for their opponents.
The Sydney Swans player, who took a sabbatical from the game to help Kerry win an All-Ireland last year, says the days of the Australians looking down their noses at their amateur opponents are coming to an end, but feels the native Aussie arrogance still lingers.
"I don't think they look down at us as amateurs any more," Kennelly said at yesterday's squad announcement in Croke Park. "I think because there has been so many successful Irish players over there - I can only imagine how tough it would have been for Jimmy Stynes 25 odd years ago - because there has been players who have made it over there, there has been a better respect from the Aussies.
"But, definitely, they have that mentality. And let them have that mentality. It's great. That will only drive us on."
Kennelly was injured the last time the hybrid experiment was staged in Australia two years ago when Ireland won both tests in a much cleaner two-match series than had been the case prior to its brief discontinuation.
However, he rejected claims that the physicality had been taken out of the game and urged Ireland to concentrate on their own strengths for the upcoming tests in Limerick and Croke Park: "We would be foolish to stand up to them in any way whatsoever."
Manager, Anthony Tohill, added the reaction of the Irish players to be being tackled in 2006 contributed to the confrontational nature of the games. "I think it was part of the problem, there is no doubt about that," he explained. "We didn't react well to being tackled and that's something we are working on.
"A tackle is a tackle if it's done fairly there is no issue. Get up and play on. Get on with it. It's not an affront to your manhood to be tackled or put on the ground. Get on with it.
"Don't waste your energy rolling around the ground wrestling. That has no part to play in this. Our reaction to being tackled in the past wasn't right and we are working on that to make sure it is right throughout this test series," he added.
Meanwhile, Kennelly's Sydney Swans team-mate Adam Goodes has been named captain of the Australian International Rules team with Collingwood's Dane Swan, Carlton's Kade Simpson and the Western Bulldogs' Matthew Boyd named as vice-captains.
"I'm really honoured by the position, to represent these young blokes because it is a huge thing," said Goodes today.
Overseeing his side's first training session with his side, 2010 Premiership coach Mick Malthouse said he was more than satisfied with the level of expertise in his squad.
"Twenty of our 23 have played in finals footy, which as we know is quite testing," he said. "We've had five players that have been premiers, 10 in grand finals, we've got seven All Australians, we've got leading goal-kickers, best and fairest winners, a Brownlow medallist.
"We want to take that cup back off them," added Malthouse. "(In 2008) it was played fairly, it was played hard, it was played to win and we don't expect any difference. We also know that we have an obligation to make sure that the game is played in a spirit that will ensure that this competition goes beyond this year."