THE GOALKEEPER is the one position completely foreign to AFL players when they make the transition to the International Rules Series.

It's the last line of defence – preventing the all-important six-point goals when a player kicks the ball into the back of the net.

Key defenders have been traditionally chosen to fill the role, using their size and length to deny the Irish.

Here is our list of the top five goalkeepers who have represented Australia in the Virgin Australia International Rules Series.

1. A Bomber great who might have missed his calling
With those Inspector Gadget-like arms, Essendon legend Dustin Fletcher was an absolute rock between the goals on the eight occasions he donned the green and gold. So much so that former Manchester United custodian Mark Bosnich believed Fletcher could have made millions had he chosen the round-ball game. Fletcher played back-to-back series in 2005-06 and returned after a four-year absence in 2010 before playing in the one-off games in 2014 and 2015 to finish his wonderful career in style at 40 years of age. 

Goddard set to don the gloves against the Irish

2. Full-back of the century shines in new role
When the International Rules Series was resurrected after an eight-year absence, who better than the greatest key backman in VFL/AFL history to take on the important job in defence? Carlton legend Stephen Silvagni certainly made his mark in the exciting 1998 confrontation, taking home the Jim Stynes Medal as the best Australian player of the series across the two Tests. Silvagni was outstanding in the first Test as helped Australia to a thrilling one-point victory at Croke Park. He then resumed his role for the two-Test series in 1999. 

3. Reliable Tiger shows his teeth on national duty
Taking over from Silvagni is no small feat, but Richmond best and fairest Andrew Kellaway did an admirable job when he moved into the role for the 2000 series. With Kellaway between the posts, Australia kept Ireland to just 47 and 51 points in the two Tests as they completed a clean sweep. Kellaway returned to the side in 2002, claiming the Jim Stynes Medal for his performances as the best player in the Australian team. Australia also won that series after winning the first Test and drawing the second. 

4. Under-sized Lion shines under constant barrage
At 183cm, former Brisbane Lions defender Ashley McGrath was one of the shortest to play as goalkeeper in the International Rules Series. He was kept extremely busy in the two Tests in 2013, when Australia sent a side of indigenous players. McGrath kept his team in the game in the first Test, conceding only 57 points, before Ireland ran wild in the second Test, scoring six goals and 116 points. McGrath was awarded the Jim Stynes Medal as Australia's best player during the series.

5. Fiery South Australian brings the fight to the Irish
Garry McIntosh was 172cm. He didn't have the height to stand between the goals. What he had was heart. And plenty of it. In the 1984 series – the first encounter since 1967 – McIntosh wasn't afraid to get involved in the physical action when anything happened. McIntosh – who played 371 games for Norwood and represented SA 12 times – charged out of the goals and took the game on, providing the grit and toughness that the Australian side needed. 

Stephen Silvagni gets the ball away during the 1999 series. Picture: AFL Photos

Others who donned the gloves

Glen Jakovich – 2003 (two Tests)
Matthew Campbell – 1987 (three Tests), 1990 (three Tests)
Matt Suckling – 2011 (two Tests)
Nathan Bock – 2008 (one Test)
Michael Firrito – 2008 (one Test)
Mal Michael – 2004 (two Tests)
Darren Gaspar – 2001 (two Tests)