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Warne, New York and the Irish


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Cricketing great Shane Warne could join the big AFL names who are throwing their clout behind the troubled Australia v Ireland international rules concept.

Warne says he is serious about becoming a mentor for the Australian team if the AFL wants him involved.

Collingwood president and high-profile commentator Eddie McGuire will take on a new role as the team’s chef de mission – essentially their spruiker and also the ambassador for the series against Ireland.

Hawthorn’s reigning premiership coach Alastair Clarkson will coach the team for one-off Test against Ireland at Patersons Stadium in Perth on November 22.

After McGuire briefly spoke about the series on Wednesday morning during his radio program, Warne also offered to become involved.

“Within point five of a second, the world’s greatest texter and spinner sent through a message saying he would love to be our international ambassador and facilitator of fun on our (future) trip overseas,” McGuire said.

“He’s pretty good at all those things.”

The AFL has canvassed 10 of the game’s top players for their thoughts on how to make the series flourish.

The chequered history of the international series hit a significant rocky patch last year when an AFL Indigenous All-Stars tour of Ireland failed to gain traction.

That has prompted several months of negotiations between the AFL and the Irish Gaelic Athletic Association.

On Wednesday, the AFL announced only past or current All-Australian players will be considered for selection.

“It’s fair to say there was a great deal of uncertainty with the continuation of this concept,” said AFL football operations manager Mark Evans.

“I acknowledge the recent difficulties we’ve had in fielding our best side in the last couple of series.

“We had to find a different way.”

That included going to the 10 players – six of them current club captains – and asking them what they wanted.

While there is strong support among AFL players for representative and international games, the concepts suffer because of timing and club commitments.

The international fixture will move from October to November to fit in better with players’ post-season leave.

Officials also will change the rules of the hybrid format so AFL key position players can become better involved in what has become a running game.

“When I knew there was going to be a high calibre of people participating, particularly from a players’ point of view … it was a no-brainer for me,” Clarkson said.

“I have a great passion for this game and if we can showcase that to the world, then it’s a great thing for our code.”

McGuire, whose mother is Irish, has great memories of past international series and has big ideas for the concept.

He wants Australia to play Ireland in New York and for the matches to be part of an overseas trade fair.

“We have to put the prestige back into it – we’re not handing out the Australian guernsey to anyone … so it’s not a hit-and-giggle game of football or an end-of-season trip.”

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