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Indigenous stars to play for Australia against Ireland

Nathan Schmook  July 3, 2013 10:47 AM

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Shaun Burgoyne at the launch of the International Rules series

THE INDIGENOUS All-Stars will represent Australia in this year's International Rules Series, and coach Michael O'Loughlin is confident he will lure the cream of the crop for the two-test tour of Ireland. 

In response to flagging interest from players and supporters, the AFL hopes to reinvigorate the series by selecting a team made up entirely of indigenous footballers. 

Some of the biggest names in the game have committed to playing, with dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes and Hawthorn star Shaun Burgoyne both instrumental in launching the concept. 

In a major boost for the series, Lance Franklin could also represent Australia for the first time. 

"They've all confirmed pretty much – they were the guys who brought it up and really desperately wanted to play," O'Loughlin said on Wednesday. 

"We'll be putting the acid on them, but we wouldn't have to twist their arm too much. 

"They've all committed to play and are looking forward to chucking on the Australian jumper." 

Burgoyne, who helped announce the new concept on Wednesday, said he had spoken to teammate Franklin, who was "very keen on the concept and putting his hand up to play". 

AFL deputy CEO Gillon McLachlan said the International Rules series needed reinvigoration and the commitment of senior indigenous players had been significant in forming the new concept. 

The idea gathered momentum in February when senior indigenous players and leaders met with the AFL executive, including CEO Andrew Demetriou. 

When asked if non-indigenous players would be disappointed they were not eligible for this year's series, McLachlan said, "The players have had plenty of chances historically to represent Australia in the International Rules series and haven't been available." 

"I don't think there's any disguising the fact in 2011 there weren't many of our senior players available to play in that series," he said. 

"As we've looked then to reinvigorate the series, the fact that the Indigenous All-Stars wanted to come together and represent Australia was exciting for us." 

O'Loughlin, who has senior coaching ambitions at AFL level, will be supported on the tour by senior assistant Rodney Eade, as well as Tadhg Kennelly, Andrew McLeod and Chris Johnson. 

McLachlan said the AFL would assess this year's series before making a decision on whether the Indigenous All-Stars would continue to represent Australia against Ireland.   

Ireland, which holds the Cormac McAnallen Cup after its 2011 series win, has supported the new concept. 

Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @AFL_Nathan