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International Rules Series returns with Australia to host two tests

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Australia's Nick Riewoldt and Ireland's Gary Brennan in the 2015 edition - AFL,International Rules
Australia's Nick Riewoldt and Ireland's Gary Brennan in the 2015 edition

THE INTERNATIONAL Rules Series will return next year, with Australia to host Ireland in a two-Test series in November.

After a one-year hiatus and following single-Test series in 2014 and 2015, the AFL and GAA have agreed to play two Virgin Australia International Rules Series Tests in Australia next year at venues yet to be determined.

The series will be played over the weekends of November 11 and 18, with the AFL again committing to field a team made up entirely of All Australian players. 

The Leagues have agreed in principle to play a two-Test series in Ireland in 2019, but no announcement has been made about future Tests in the United States. 

Football operations manager Mark Evans said it was crucial that Australia matched Ireland’s commitment to field its best players and limited selection to All Australian representatives. 

Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield, Hawthorn premiership captain Luke Hodge and former St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt were among the stars who helped reinvigorate to the format in 2014 and 2015. 

"The one-off Test matches in Perth and Dublin over the last two years were two high-class encounters played in front of very strong crowds," Evans said.

"Australian and Irish fans have shown they want to see a spectacular and competitive contest played between the most talented AFL players and Ireland’s best Gaelic footballers.

"Restricting selection to only a player who has earned All Australian selection through his AFL career has ensured the prestige of playing in the International Rules Series." 

The GAA said it believed the scheduling of two-Test series in 2017 and 2019 was a logical development following the renewed popularity of the format. 

Joe Kernan, who coached Ireland to a thrilling win in the 2015 series, will lead the visitors next year.

Australia has committed to appointing the best coaches in the game after Alastair Clarkson led the team in 2014 and 2015. 

In May this year, Evans said the AFL and GAA would continue to explore ways to stage "matches or exhibition games to the many expat Irish and Australians living in the US in the years ahead."