Vice-captain Aaron Davey says his indigenous All Stars team might be smaller than Ireland but if there’s any rough stuff in the international rules series “we aren’t just going to stand back”.
Past Irish teams have complained about Australia’s physical style of play but this year they’ll be the side with the size advantage.
“This Irish team will be the bigger team,” Australia’s assistant coach Tadhg Kennelly told AAP ahead of Saturday’s first Test at Cavan (Sunday morning AEDT).
“They’ve got some big guys that are 6’6″ and 6’7”.
“These boys will be a lot bigger than our indigenous side.”
Kennelly was a key member of the Irish squad which outclassed Australia 2-0 in the 2011 series.
He’s played 12 international rules matches for Ireland over six series.
But his close friend and Australian coach Michael O’Loughlin convinced the former Sydney Swans star to swap sides in 2013.
Kennelly insists amateur Gaelic footballers are pretty much professionals except “they’re not getting paid”.
“The amount of time and energy they’ve spent in the sports science of Gaelic football is enormous.”
Davey, however, isn’t fazed by the potential for a bruising encounter.
“We might be smaller but if the Irish are going to come out a bit more physical I can tell you now we aren’t just going to stand back,” the recently-retired Melbourne forward told AAP.
“Quite clearly we are going to be out-sized in height and some of these guys are real athletic.
“But our speed is our biggest strength.”
Australia played a combined Dublin universities team on Wednesday in preparation for Saturday’s match and scored a comprehensive win at Parnell Park.
Afterwards Davey stated: “I don’t think I’ve ever played in a quicker team.”
“I reckon now that it’s all up and going a lot of people are going to sit back in Australia and be glued to the TV and watch the game.”
Kennelly – the only man to have won an AFL premiership and an All-Ireland Gaelic football title – says Australia will rely on being quick and agile to put pressure on Ireland.
The plan is to give the hosts less time to dispose of the ball.
The assistant coach thinks the Irish could struggle to tackle the All Stars who plan to keep the ball out in the open.
The indigenous team, on the other hand, will be tenacious, Kennelly said.
“Their whole careers they’ve been playing against blokes that are bigger than them. Now it’s no different playing against the Irish.
“You don’t have to be the biggest player in the world to tackle (and) we’ve also got some big boys that can throw their weight around.”
The 32-year-old expects Ash McGrath will likely to be Australia’s keeper in the first Test.
Kennelly has done a lot of work with the Brisbane Lions defender who was “super” during Wednesday’s practice match.
“He made some really good saves and his kicking is very good,” Kennelly said.
“Ash is a deep defender, he’s kicked out an awful lot in the AFL, so it’s not a foreign position to him.
“The only foreign thing to him is obviously stopping and goal keeping.”
And, of course, dealing with the round ball.