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NFL to the rescue after practice drama

Destination New York for AFL stars The AFL's New York visit could just be the start

AUSTRALIAN coach Alastair Clarkson was rapt the Aussies could play a practice match among themselves at the multi-million dollar New York Jets indoor training facility on Saturday.

The players had a solid hit-out as they began to refine their plans in preparation for the Virgin Australia International Rules Series in Ireland spending close to two hours on the artificial turf.

It was a chance for the game's stars to finally combine on the field in a serious manner since arriving in New York with the creativity of Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell and the marking of St Kilda's Nick Riewoldt standing out in the game that saw the 22 players involved.

Former Essendon evergreen Dustin Fletcher was his usual reliable self while Australian skipper Luke Hodge played with enough intensity to remind everyone an international game was just a week away.

Hodge named skipper for Ireland clash 

Clarkson oversaw the session alongside Ross Lyon, Chris Scott and chairman of selectors Gerard Healy who have been meeting regularly in the Big Apple to plot a system to defeat the Irish.

Clarkson said the session was exactly what the team needed while in New York and told the players the chance to control how they played against each other was really beneficial.

The players are likely to have one more light training run before leaving New York on Monday.

The hit-out came after Australia had to cancel Saturday's scheduled practice match in New York because of an unsuitable surface, instead training at the NFL's New York Jets training facility.

The intended game at Rockland Field, Orangeburg was called off after AFL officials inspected the ground on Friday morning and found it had an undulating surface and bare patches throughout. 

Gerard Healy and Nick Riewoldt in the New York Jets facility. Picture: Lachlan Cunningham

With Australian coach Alastair Clarkson declaring before he left Australia he had two responsibilities – to win the Test match against Ireland and return the squad in a healthy state to their AFL clubs – the risk of injury was considered too great. 

Team officials were forced to scramble for a suitable alternative to train the group on Saturday, eventually receiving permission to train at the New York Jets training facility after receiving help from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

After AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan explained the squad's predicament to Goodell at Friday's jumper presentation, hasty arrangements were made to ensure the squad trained. 

Saturday's hit-out will be the last significant training session for the squad before they fly out to Ireland early next week for the final tune-up of the November 21 Test at Croke Park.

Meanwhile, the Australian squad attended the New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Several players met with Cleveland's Australian point guard Matthew Dellavedova after the game, which the Cavaliers won 90-84.

Dustin Fletcher listens to coach Tadhg Kennelly. Picture: Lachlan Cunningham