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Fyfe's round ball reign began in Spain

Lee Gaskin, AFL.com.au  November 13, 2017 11:00 AM

AFL 2017 IRS Series - Australia v Ireland

Nat Fyfe was a standout for Australia in the 10-point win over Ireland on Sunday.

Mastering the round ball at a Spanish soccer club had Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe ready for the Virgin Australia International Rules Series.

Fyfe was Australia's most dangerous forward in Sunday's 10-point win against Ireland in the first Test.

The 2015 Brownlow Medallist kicked three overs, but the highlight was his goal in the third quarter when he blasted the ball off the goal post and into the back of the net.

Fremantle's head of strength and conditioning Jason Weber gave Fyfe a training program based on high-end speed running to get him ready for the IRS, something he wouldn't normally do at this time of the year.

Fyfe also got himself ready to kick the round ball when he spent part of his off-season training in Spain.

"I trained in Spain for a few weeks, so I took a round ball to Spain and trained at a soccer club over there," Fyfe said.

"I honed my skill where I could.

"I've had a pretty good off-season preparation period and feel in great shape, for this, but also for the AFL season with Fremantle."

Putting his Geelong hat on, Australia coach Chris Scott said he was relieved the Cats wouldn't be facing Fyfe and his Dockers until later in the 2018 season.

"As soon as I saw Nat Fyfe (in camp), I double-checked to see when we were playing Freo and it's the second-last game, which I'm pretty happy about," Scott said.

"He's in ripping shape early on."

Fyfe said Australia's superior fitness helped it overcome its deficiencies with kicking the round ball.

"I thought we adapted quite well to the round ball," he said.

"Clearly, they (Ireland have) got a big advantage by foot.

"When we built up by hand and over-lapped ran, I thought we looked quite dangerous."

Australia has a 10-point advantage heading into the second and final Test at Perth's Domain Stadium on Saturday night.

Injuries to Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury and Gold Coast star Pearce Hanley will put the spotlight on the risks of having players involved in the modified game.

But Fyfe said the players supported the concept and that it deserved to remain on the calendar.

"People are always going to be naysayers in whatever you do," he said.

"This series, it doesn't attract everyone's love for it, but this has got the best AFL players in Australia playing and the best Irish players.

"It's a pretty high-level spectacle.

"Any chance I get to pull on this emblem, it's pretty important."

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