Gary Ablett will make his International Rules debut in a star-studded Australia squad set to face Ireland but Dustin Martin has turned down the chance to represent his country.
Eight-time All-Australian Ablett will line up alongside fellow Brownlow Medal winners Patrick Dangerfield and Nat Fyfe in two Tests, in Adelaide and Perth, next month.
But reigning Brownlow and Norm Smith Medallist Martin, who last month led Richmond to a drought-breaking AFL premiership, was a notable absentee from the 17-man squad announced on Thursday.
Coaching panel representative Luke Ball said the enigmatic Tigers midfielder was invited to play but opted out, as did West Coast wingman Andrew Gaff.
“In the end, he got back to us only last night and said ‘look, the body needs a rest’, and that’s understandable with the season that he’s had.”
“He was sounded out and certainly expressed strong interest in the concept, as most players do,” Ball said of Martin.
Australia will be looking to regain the Cormac McAnallen Trophy in what will be the first two-Test series since 2013.
Geelong’s Chris Scott will head up the coaching panel, with his brother and North Melbourne coach Brad to serve as an assistant alongside Fremantle’s Ross Lyon.
The AFL revamped their selection criteria in 2014 to ensure only All-Australian players could be selected for the International Rules series.
The strength of the squad should ensure strong attendance at games at Adelaide Oval on November 12 and Subiaco Oval six days later.
Ablett, who is likely to leave Gold Coast for Geelong during the trade period, will be a major drawcard after more than a decade of dominance in the AFL.
Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury, who will play in his second International Rules series, said he would relish the chance to line up alongside Ablett.
“I’ve been away with him before and done a little bit of work over in the States with him,” Pendlebury said.
“He’s been arguably the best player in the last 15 years of our game so I think everyone would be pretty excited to play with Gary.”
AUSTRALIA’S 2017 INTERNATIONAL RULES SQUAD: Gary Ablett, Eddie Betts, Travis Boak, Shaun Burgoyne, Patrick Dangerfield, Nat Fyfe, Brendon Goddard, Toby Greene, Michael Hibberd, Rory Laird, Zac Merrett, Scott Pendlebury, Paddy Ryder, Joel Selwood, Rory Sloane, Chad Wingard, Dayne Zorko.