HAWTHORN star Jack Gunston said he jumped at the chance to represent his country after receiving a late call up to Australia’s International Rules squad.
Gunston was joined by North Melbourne bookends Ben Brown and Robbie Tarrant, West Coast’s Luke Shuey, Carlton veteran Kade Simpson and Melbourne defender Neville Jetta for the two Test series against Ireland on November 12 (Adelaide Oval) and November 18 (Domain Stadium).
Cats superstars Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood remain in the side to be led by Geelong coach Chris Scott, while Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury is also still involved.
“When you get a phone call asking you to represent your country it’s pretty hard to knock it back. It was unexpected, but whether it was a day before or half a year before, it wasn’t something I was going to knock back and I’m looking forward to it,” Gunston said.
“You’re playing with some of the stars of the game, playing against another country and it’s something we don’t get to do in an Australian competition.
“It will be good to be with a some ex-teammates. I think (Patrick) Dangerfield and (Rory) Sloane; it will be good to team up with them again, although ‘Danger’ can get a bit annoying at times and he’ll probably kick me out of the forward line.
“But the (Nathan) Fyfe’s and the ‘Pendles’ (Pendlebury), and these guys who’ve dominated the game for so long; to spend 10 days with them and see how they do it will be something pretty cool.”
While Gunston was relishing the change from Hawthorn brown and gold to Australian green and gold, he said seeing Luke Hodge in Brisbane Lions maroon, blue and gold took some getting used to.
“It was a bit different, albeit it does kind of suit him. He’s got a natural tan and the brown and maroon, or whatever colours Brisbane are, suit him,” he said.
“I saw him overseas recently and he’s looking forward to it. He’s fit and ready to go and we play them twice (rounds 9 and 17) so I’m looking forward to that.
“He’s a competitive man. I’m sure he’ll want to win and take a few bodies along the way.”
Gunston was confident Hawthorn could rebound from a 2017 season that saw it miss finals for the first time since 2009.
Gunston, who struggled forward before a mid-season switch saw him contribute as a defender, pointed to the Hawks’ solid finish which saw them win six and draw one of their last 10 matches.
“We had a great finish to the year, a strong second half, and we blooded a lot of kids and they played some good footy,” he said.
“If we can take that into pre-season, with the kids developing and driving the older guys who are still there, it’s a very promising 2018.”