There’s no doubt this is the last-chance saloon for International Rules.
If the AFL can’t get it right now, the plug might as well be pulled on the whole thing.
Disinterest from players and clubs have turned what should be a major goal of an AFL player, to wear an Australian jumper, into an end of season junket for whoever is left standing.
Yesterday’s announcement that this year’s series would be limited to players who have All Australian representation as part of their CV is an exciting step forward for the concept.
It adds an element of seriousness and professionalism, something which has been lacking.
That Australia wants its best out there representing their country is exactly the way it should be.
Installing the reigning premiership coach Alastair Clarkson as boss and making it just a one Test series (which obviously limits the risk of injury ) are two other huge positives.
AFL players should get the opportunity to represent their country, even if it is a hybrid game, so this news can only be labelled as exciting.
While I was a fan of the all-indigenous team that traveled to Ireland last year, that team was simply not competitive, going down by 101 points in the two matches, and the bits-and-pieces team led by Brad Green in 2011 was also thrashed, losing that series by 65 points.
These two series showed that the only way to be competitive against the Irish, who have the major advantage of playing with the round ball, and to market the series was to put the best players out on the park.
Tweaking the rules even further will help make this true contest.
Now it needs support.
Support from both the players and their clubs, who only have to let their players go for one Saturday night in November.
The very best players have said they will play, and that a November Test suits their annual leave, so all indications are that this will happen, save for any post-season surgeries or clubs (or players) getting cold feet.
Even if it is with a modified game with a round ball, to see the likes of Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, Scott Pendlebury, Patrick Dangerfield, Jobe Watson and Lance Franklin (just to name a few), all playing in the one team will surely attract the support of the people.
If it can’t, then the International Rules series is as good as dead.