The most prolific Irish-born AFL players playing the game will not be available for Sean Boylan's Irish international rules squad next month.
Boylan confirmed yesterday that his captain Tadhg Kennelly and rookie star Martin Clarke have both been ruled out of the end of October series because of injures.
Kennelly, a star of the series in the past, has had problems with his shoulder and had an exploratory operation last week. His club, Sydney Swans, consulted with him and he will now have a full operation on Friday, ruling him out for up to five months.
Rising Collingwood star Clarke, who is home in Down at the moment, has also been ruled out by his club because of ankle trouble. Collingwood are coached by Nick Malthouse who is also Australian coach for the forthcoming series.
Carlow's Brendan Murphy, also on the books of Swans, and former Laois minor Colm Begley, who plays for Brisbane, will, however, link up with the Irish squad.
Boylan defended the policy of playing AFL-based Irish players in the series which kicks off in Perth on October 24 and then moves on to Melbourne seven days later.
"Some of the lads can come and some can't go. It brings up the question as to whether these lads should be playing at all but it's an opportunity for Irish lads and Irish men.
"This is open. It's a game we want to promote and develop. People have said to me 'will it mean more GAA players going to Australia?' Well there was no series last year and never as many people went out."
Boylan has confirmed Anthony Tohill, Eoin Liston and Hugh Kenny as his selectors again, while the most-capped Irish international rules player Sean Martin Lockhart from Derry will act as runner.
Boylan has had former rugby international Trevor Brennan and former Irish rugby fitness coach Mike McGurn working as part of his backroom team for the past five weeks and defended their presence yesterday.
"There's no significance at all. Both have played Gaelic games. Both understand the game upside-down, inside-out. So many of the coaches here are involved with teams," he pointed out.
A host of new rules have been introduced for the series and the GAA are confident that this can restore order after the chaos of 2006.
"This is a wonderful game. Played right, it's the first new football game in 100 years and we want to get it right. The international dimension means a huge amount to both sets of players," said Boylan.
"When we got out to Australia it will be arranged for the team to meet before this first test socially. To think that after the last series no lads exchanged addresses, no lads exchanged emails, that's not the way it should be. This is intended as a sporting occasion.
"Everybody is happy there is clarity with the rules now," said Boylan.
"For the last five weeks we've had clips from Pat Daly about what's on, what's not on and everybody has bought into it."
The video match referee for the series has been confirmed as the vastly experienced South African Ian Curlewis.