While teammates are sweating through 40-degree weather at pre-season training, Australia’s elite AFL stars will attempt to defend their International Rules title in temperatures bordering on zero.
When Australia face off against Ireland at Croke Park on Saturday night (Sunday 0600 AEDT) temperatures are expected to dip to four degrees.
But Australia coach Alastair Clarkson doesn’t expect it to be a major advantage for the hardy Irish amateurs, pointing to the unpredictability of Melbourne weather as proof most AFL players can handle anything Mother Nature throws up.
“We live in Melbourne and we have a range in temperature there from about zero degrees and I think if you look at the radar it’s about 40 degrees in Melbourne (now),” he said at Friday’s pre-match press conference.
While many players interrupted their off-season holidays to take part in the one-off Test for the Cormac Macanallen Trophy, the likes of captain Luke Hodge and his Hawthorn teammtes Jarryd Roughead, Sam Mitchell, Grant Birchall and Luke Breust last played an AFL game in oppressively hot conditions.
The 32-degree weather on grand final day, when they trounced a West Coast team boasting their Australian ally Andrew Gaff, will be a world away from the frost they’ll face in Dublin.
“Our boys are looking forward to the contest and we’d play whether it was minus degree temperature,” Clarkson insisted.
“Our grand final this year it was 31 or 32 degrees, so tough conditions to play football but when your pride is on the line and you’re playing for your country you don’t really care.
“As long as there’s green grass and an opposition you’ll have a crack.”