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Lyon joins International Rules as assistant

Hawthorn's Alastair Clarkson and Fremantle's Ross Lyon after the 2013 Toyota Grand Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Fremantle Dockers at the MCG, Melbourne on September 28, 2013. (Photo: David Callow/AFL Media)
Opposing Grand Final coaches Alastair Clarkson and Ross Lyon will team up for Australia in the International Rules Series
FREMANTLE coach Ross Lyon has thrown his weight behind the International Rules Series by joining the Australian team as an assistant coach for the one-off Test match in Perth in November. 

Lyon joins a star-studded support staff for the International Rules team, including Hawthorn mentor Alastair Clarkson as senior coach, 1988 Brownlow medallist Gerard Healy as selector, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire as chef de mission, and Port Adelaide's head of high performance Darren Burgess as the team's head of fitness. 

AFL football operations manager Mark Evans was in Perth to announce Lyon's addition to the coaching staff on Wednesday. Evans revealed in April that the AFL was trying to re-invigorate the International Rules concept by making only All Australian players eligible for selection. 

Evans stated on Wednesday that 10 players had already fully committed to the match at Patersons Stadium on November 22, including Luke Hodge, Scott Pendlebury, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood.

Lyon said he was keen to be involved once he knew how serious the AFL was in promoting the concept.

"From a personal point of view, when Mark and Alastair approached me I had a couple of questions around what support it had and how seriously it had been taken, because obviously it was an Australian team," Lyon said. 

"But the fact that there will be players of the calibre already mentioned and a serious All Australian team was a real incentive for me as a coach to work with that quality of athlete that will be representing Australia. 

"Particularly Alastair as a dual premiership coach, to get the opportunity to work with him and be in an elite environment, and the fact that it was a one-off Test in Perth where the support for the Australian team historically has had crowds upwards of 40,000." 

Evans said the future of the International Rules hinged on the commitment of the best players and coaches in the AFL and also the lure of taking the concept to the United States. 

"The future of the series could go a couple of ways," Evans said. 

"We think it's important to collect the very best and participate together in some form, and International Rules is that at the moment. 

"But there's quite some possibility that we may take a series to the United States in the next year or two, and bring Ireland to the United States and play in Central Park in New York, and play in Boston and really create some excitement about collecting this group of people together."

Lyon believes that the future of representative football in the AFL remained with International Rules in late November, as he was adamant State of Origin would not return anytime soon. 

"We know the excitement around State of Origin," Lyon said. 

"But it died a death for a reason. The parochialism of clubs in-season, the risk of injury it made it very difficult.

"At some level we would all like to see it, but the harsh realities of how much clubs invest in the players in the whole season, to get that in-season would be very difficult."