Contributed by: Brett Northey
Two players with an international flavour were added to AFL player lists at the Pre-season and Rookie List drafts conducted this week. PNG born Mal Michael ended his retirement of just a few weeks to be picked up by Essendon, while Irish youngster Martin Clarke (pictured) was added to Collingwood's international rookie list via the rookie draft.
Michael's former club, Brisbane, remain angry that he will be able to resume football in 2007 after they let him out of that year of his contract when he chose to retire. The AFL announced last week that their investigation into the matter found no wrongdoing by Essendon or the three time Lions premiership player, clearing the way for him to be picked up by the Bombers. It's understood that Essendon will allow Michael to spend more time on his Foundation aimed at assisting in raising the standard of living in PNG, possibly including through sport.
As reported in Young Gaelic football star confirms he will join Collingwood, the Magpies were keen on the 19 year old Gaelic footballer Martin Clarke, and have added him to their rookie list with selection 40 at the Rookie List draft. This brings the current total of Irish players on AFL lists to 5, with the O'hAilpin brothers at Carlton (Setanta on the main list, Aisake a rookie), Tadhg Kennelly at Sydney (main list) and Colm Begley with the Brisbane Lions (rookie list). The recruitment of Clarke will no doubt be seen in some circles in Ireland as another reason to permanently cancel the recently suspended International Rules series. Of course if that happens then the AFL concessions to not offer international scholarships to young players from the Emerald Isle may be ditched and result in even more Irish players making the trip to the other side of the globe.
Clarke has been training with Collingwood since the start of pre-season and was a priority pick for their international rookie list. The Magpies have described him as 183 cm, 83 kg and an "extremely athletic midfield type who excelled playing Gaelic football in Ireland and who has been training with the Magpies over the preseason. Has picked up Australian Rules Football skills very quickly."
World Footy News