The West

AFL could take Rules series to America
Ross Lyon talks to Chris Mayne at Dockers training today. Lyon has joined the International Rules coaching team for the one-off Test in Perth.. Pic: Steve Ferrier/WA News

The AFL could stage an International Rules Series in the United States in the next two years as it attempts to reinvigorate the hybrid game against Ireland, according to league football operations manager Mark Evans.

In Perth today to announce Fremantle coach Ross Lyon as Alastair Clarkson's senior assistant for a one off Test in Perth on November 22, Evans said the key to the future success for International Rules lay in getting the best players and coaches together.

To that end, the selection formula for this year's series is simple - you have to be, or been, an All-Australian player. Scott Pendlebury, Joel Selwood, Luke Hodge and Patrick Dangerfield have already committed to the series.

And the players will be surrounded by an elite coaching staff, with Hawthorn coach Clarkson and Lyon, Port Adelaide strength and conditioning coach Darren Burgess, Gerard Healy as chairman of selectors and an elite "spruiker" in chef de mission Eddie McGuire.

Evans said Perth's track record in filling Patersons Stadium for games had been critical in selecting the city as the venue for the Test.

"The Perth crowd have been fantastic in supporting this concept in the past and only having one match in Australia, we decided we would bring it to Perth to reward that and to make sure this event is showcased as best as it could be," he said.

"It speaks volumes for us to have the two grand final coaches from last year, to wrap those around the very elite players in the competition. We still have another assistant coach to appoint and we will get to that in the coming weeks.

"We have tried to prove to the players that we will put the very best people in control of this team. That is very significant to prove to everybody that this will be the very best of the very best in the league. For them to commit and to be involved in this series will be fantastic.

"I know we will have a couple of injuries along the way but when those players get replaced by other All-Australian players we can prove the quality of the squad."

Evans labelled the selection criteria an important part of the "blueprint" for future series and confirmed the United States as a possible future venue.

"There is quite some possibility that we might take a series to the United States in the next year or two and bring Ireland to the United States and play in Central Park in New York and play in Boston and really create some excitement about collecting this group of people together."

Lyon said it was an easy decision to be involved given the elite nature of the squad and the chance to work with Clarkson.

"When Mark and Alastair approached me I had a couple of questions about what support and how seriously was it being taken because obviously it is an Australian team," Lyon said.

"The fact there will be players of the calibre already mentioned and a serious, almost All-Australian team was a real incentive for me as a coach to work with that calibre of athlete that will be representing Australia.

"Particularly with Alastair, who is a dual premiership coach, to get the opportunity to work with him and really be in an elite environment and the fact that it was a one-off Test in Perth where the support for the Australian team historically has been upwards of 40,000.

"When I put all that together and that for me it is an opportunity to contribute back to the game and get outside of club land, I think it be great for my personal growth and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a unique experience."

The West Australian

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