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Goddard to don the gloves for Australia

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Brendon Goddard speaking to reporters at Melbourne airport on Thursday - AFL,Brendon Goddard,International Rules,Essendon Bombers,Dustin Fletcher
Brendon Goddard speaking to reporters at Melbourne airport on Thursday

ESSENDON veteran Brendon Goddard has confirmed he will don the goalkeeper's gloves for Sunday's first Test of the International Rules Series against Ireland. 

The 32-year-old had been widely tipped to take on the responsibility, but the late addition to the squad of North Melbourne defender Robbie Tarrant made the decision more difficult for Australian coach Chris Scott. 

Goddard will take the goalkeeping reins from Bombers champion Dustin Fletcher, who had the role for more than a decade before hanging up the boots at the end of 2015.

"I've got the gloves in the bag," Goddard said.

"It's something a little bit foreign to me, with Fletch being the number one goalie for a couple of years. I don't quite have the Gadget-like reach that Fletch's had in the past.

"He texted me the other day asking me if I had the tee that we are allowed to kick off for kick-ins, so he was going to try and find one [for me to practice with], but that's about it."

Victorian members of the Australian squad flew out on Thursday morning ahead of Sunday's Test at Adelaide Oval. 

The team will train together for the first time on Thursday afternoon. 

Goddard will be the second oldest player in the squad, behind only Hawthorn veteran Shaun Burgoyne.

Returning Geelong champion Gary Ablett has withdrawn from the team due to personal reasons.

Goddard said Ablett, who has never played International Rules, was a big loss for Australia but was understanding of his situation.

"It's obviously been really tough for him with the family tragedy, and moving back to Geelong, so I understand he needs some time to himself," he said.

The Irish players have been training together for several weeks, and enjoyed a session at Punt Road Oval on Wednesday. 

They have a big advantage when it comes to skills with the round ball, while the Aussie team believes it has a physical edge, but Goddard admitted his side needed to be careful not to cross the line.

"It does get a little bit heated and the Irish are very good at niggling and we have taken it a step too far in recent history," he said.

"One of our advantages is being physical, as they don’t have that in their game, while they have the skills with the round ball.

"But we do need to try and influence the game with our physicality."

The visitors fly to Sydney on Thursday for a welcome dinner, before heading to Adelaide. 

Ireland holds the Cormac McAnnallen Trophy after clinching victory in a one-off Test at Croke Park in Dublin in 2015.


2017 Australian squad 

Eddie Betts (Adelaide), Ben Brown (North Melbourne), Travis Boak (Port Adelaide), Shaun Burgoyne (Hawthorn), Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong), Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle), Jack Gunston (Hawthorn), Brendon Goddard (Essendon), Michael Hibberd (Melbourne), Neville Jetta (Melbourne), Rory Laird (Adelaide), Zac Merrett (Essendon), Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood), Paddy Ryder (Port Adelaide), Joel Selwood(Geelong), Luke Shuey (West Coast), Kade Simpson (Carlton), Rory Sloane (Adelaide), Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne), Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide), Dayne Zorko (Brisbane Lions).

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