The AFL has delivered on its pledge to draw the cream of the crop back to International Rules, selecting a star-studded team to take on Ireland in Perth next month.
There are nine members of this year’s All Australian team in the squad, including AA captain Joel Selwood, with a team captain yet to be announced for the one-off clash at Patersons Stadium on November 22.
As well as Hodge, 2014 premiership players Sam Mitchell
, Grant Birchall
and Luke Breust have been selected to play under Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson, with the Hawks the most represented team.
Returning to play the round-ball game are Dangerfield, Hodge, Brendon Goddard,
Robbie Gray, Brent Harvey, Kieren Jack, Jarrad McVeigh, Leigh Montagna and Nick Riewoldt.
Harvey said the calibre of players involved in the squad made it an irresistible opportunity.
“When the AFL made contact with me and they throw out another six or seven names that are elite in the competition, if not the best in the competition, it’s just an opportunity that you can’t pass up,” Harvey said.
“I’m pretty sure that bunch of guys will never play football together again so that opportunity was just too big to refuse.”
Ireland will be missing Carlton trio Zach Tuohey, Ciaran Sheehan and Ciaran Byrne after they reportedly chose not to represent their country to instead focus on preparing for another pre-season with the Blues.
The team will convene in Sydney on November 16 for a three-day training camp before flying to Perth on Wednesday, November 19.
Lyon said he expects the players to return from their break in top condition. The players will all be sent an International Rules ball to practise with ahead of the match.
“It’s so hard to kick,” Harvey said.
“It’s very predictable where the ball’s going to bounce, a lot different to our ball.
“But the biggest thing for us is the kicking skills. We’re all getting sent out a ball and you have to practise, because if you don’t practise you get found out.
“So I’m sure the boys will come with a little bit of skill. Once we get to training, we’ll work out the best way. There’s a couple of ways to kick the football. We’ll work out the best way for each individual. Hopefully I can pass on some of my experiences.”
Grant Birchall, Travis Boak, Luke Breust, Patrick Dangerfield, Dustin Fletcher, Nat Fyfe, Brendon Goddard, Robbie Gray, Brent Harvey, Luke Hodge, Kieren Jack, Steve Johnson, Jarrad McVeigh, Sam Mitchell, Leigh Montagna, Nic Naitanui, Nick Riewoldt, Tom Rockliff, Joel Selwood, Brodie Smith, Nick Smith, Harry Taylor, Jobe Watson, Chad Wingard.