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Irish fight can't be taken lightly, Scott warns

Australia coach Chris Scott and captain Shaun Burgoyne with Ireland captain Aidan O'Shea and coach John Kernan on Saturday - AFL,International Rules
Australia coach Chris Scott and captain Shaun Burgoyne with Ireland captain Aidan O'Shea and coach John Kernan on Saturday
The game stands up and doesn't require overt physicality to make it a good spectacle for the fans
Australia coach Chris Scott

AUSTRALIA won't underestimate the physicality or tackling ability of the Irish when the countries square off in the first Test in the Virgin Australia International Rules Series on Sunday. 

While the visiting Irish players backed themselves to use the round ball more efficiently, they will need to adjust to an increased level of physical pressure given the absence of tackling in Gaelic football.

Australia coach Chris Scott expected a hard-fought clash played "in the right spirit" and said his players would be wary of their opponents' tackling ability when the teams meet at Adelaide Oval. 

"The tackling is an integral part of the game and it's important you execute that skill well," Scott said on Saturday.

"Zach Tuohy plays with us at Geelong and he'd be as good a tackler as we have in our team, so it would be crazy to underestimate the skill of the Irish in that department. 

"In terms of the overall physicality, we think the game stands up and doesn't require overt physicality to make it a good spectacle for the fans.

"We think we've got an obligation to play the game in the right spirit so that this series can not only continue but thrive." 

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Ireland manager Joe Kernan said his team understood tackling was not the group's biggest attribute, so "we won't be dependent on the tackling to help us win the game". 

He said his players – including Tuohy and Gold Coast's Pearce Hanley – would bring a physical approach to the series, but warned the boilovers of past clashes should not be repeated.  

"You can be physical and stay within the rules," he said.   

"Physicality is a part of our sport and your sport. Done rightly it only adds to the game. I can't see a problem.

"I think both organisations laid down the law that they didn't want that anymore. We wanted physical but we want it within the rules." 

The Irish camp has been hit with illness on the eve of the first Test, with team physiotherapist Enda McGinley and a number of players isolated to stop the problem spreading.

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Kernan said he hoped the affected players would be able to play some part in the match, even if it was limited.

"We had three players who were down this morning and two of them are feeling a whole lot better … we're hoping that they'll be able to take part," the manager said.  

Ireland cancelled a planned training run for Saturday afternoon because of the Adelaide heat, with Kernan saying: "There's no sense in wearing people out … we'll save what we have for tomorrow".  

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Ireland's Zach Tuohy feels the pinch during Friday's training session in Adelaide. Picture: Getty Images

Captains Shaun Burgoyne and Aidan O’Shea also fronted the media on Saturday, with Burgoyne saying he was humbled to be handed the Australian captaincy. 

"It's an unbelievable honour. Considering there's four club captains in our team, to be given the nod is something I'll cherish and my family will as well," he said. 

O'Shea, whose country holds the Cormac McAnallen Trophy after its victory in 2015, forecast a hard-fought series between two competitive teams. 

"The last couple of series have been played in the correct manner, but that doesn't mean there's no physicality," he said.

"We'll play in the right spirit, we'll play good footy, we'll tackle hard, we'll run hard up and down the ground. Whoever comes out on top comes out on top."

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First Test: Adelaide Oval, Sunday, November 12
Second Test: Domain Stadium, Saturday, November 18