Lee Keegan admits that the International Rules Series was on the verge of “destruction” but wants Saturday’s clash to give it a new lease of life.
The Mayo defender, who won an All Star earlier this month, is involved with the national side for the third time, and relishing the prospect of coming up against Australia’s elite selection at Croke Park.
The future of the series looked in serious doubt after the last time the Aussies visited and fell to a 101-point defeat in 2013.
However, last year the AFL picked only players who had won the equivalent of an All Star and have done the same this time around.
Keegan told RTÉ Sport: “Obviously, 2013 didn’t go so well, I think it was on the brink of destruction at that stage.
"Thankfully last year we got good interest, we got a good Irish selection out.
“I’m really hoping for good test, a tough test but a successful one and hopefully it sparks a new lease of life into it.”
“They’re obviously taking a huge interest and I’m delighted that they are bringing their best squad, just to pit ourselves against the best they have, obviously being professionals is a huge test for us.
"2013 didn’t go so well, I think it was on the brink of destruction at that stage"
“Hopefully this Test can bring in more interest. From a player’s point of view, we express huge interest – it’s our only chance to represent our country as amateurs."
Asked about how it feels to join up with major rivals from the world of Gaelic football for a one-off game, the 26-year-old said: “For nine months of the year we’re tearing each other’s heads off.
“We don’t have long together to get to know each other, game plans and personalities but to be fair Joe [Kernan, manager] has given us chances and brought a good blend.
“It’s great to meet different lads to see the way they train, the way they prepare for games. Hopefully we’ll gel enough to win the series.”
Ireland v Australia is live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 7pm, with radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 and a live blog on RTE.ie.