Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson hopes next year’s International Rules series will be played in America, and he wants to be the one leading the charge.
The hybrid concept was brought back to life on Saturday night when a sellout crowd of 38,262 attended Australia’s 10-point win over Ireland at Perth’s Patersons Stadium.
Australia’s policy of only selecting past or present All-Australians proved a huge success, with the high calibre of talent on display helping revive a series that had been on its knees in recent years.
A second-string Australian outfit were easily outclassed in 2011, while last year’s all-Indigenous squad was thumped by a combined 101 points over two Tests.
But the AFL’s cream-of-the-crop reversed those embarrassments on Saturday night with a 0.17.5 (56) to 2.9.7 (46) win.
Clarkson, who was the head coach for this year’s one-off Test, said it was essential to keep the All-Australian policy in place for future series.
And he hopes the AFL’s wish to take the game to America next year will eventuate.
“I think there’s a market in New York, and a big Irish contingency there as well,” Clarkson said.
“We may be able to get the best of both worlds – have one in New York or Boston, and another one in Ireland at Croke Park.
“The series was a bit shaky over the last two or three years because we didn’t take sides that were truly representative of our best players in our competition.
“But I feel the series is consolidated (now) in a sense.”
Ireland coach Paul Earley doesn’t want to see the game taken to foreign territory just yet.
“I don’t see the logic playing it in the States. It’s got to establish a foothold in Ireland and Australia first before you take it international,” Earley said.
“It’s had some difficult years over the last four or five.
“I’ve always felt there’s a future for this series if both sides play their best teams.
“I think if it’s to be played next year, which I hope it will, I’d certainly like it to be played in Ireland, and if possible more than one Test.
“Two Tests is ideal.”
Clarkson said it was too tough to compare Saturday’s series triumph with the three premierships he has won at Hawthorn.
But he knows one thing for sure – he wants to be at the helm next year.
“I think the idea of the series in the years moving ahead is that each senior coach will get a chance to coach home and away, and then hand over the reins to another coach,” Clarkson said.
“Unless I am struck down with illness again, I am happy to be involved with these boys again.
“It’s a unique experience to work with all of these boys and something that I will cherish for a long, long time.”