Game 1: Friday, 21 October at Subiaco Oval (Perth) Game 2: Saturday, 29 October at Telstra Dome (Melbourne) In other Australian / Irish news . . . Brisbane Lions to exploit Irish loophole Chip Le Grand 14. 10. 05 THE Brisbane Lions are intent on securing two Irish recruits before the end of this month's International Rules series in a bid to bolster their playing ranks while exploiting a loophole within the AFL salary cap rules. Irish international Sean Cavanagh, a midfielder with this year's All-Ireland champion County Tyrone, has been offered a two-year contract to join Brisbane next season as an "international rookie", while County Down captain James Colgan and forward Martin Clarke have also held negotiations. Under provisions for international rookies, AFL clubs can secure up to two players from non-AFL backgrounds. There are no limits on what international recruits can be paid as their contracts fall outside the salary cap. The rarely used provision has immediate appeal for Brisbane, which has publicly admitted it will be forced to shed senior players to squeeze under next year's salary cap. Following lobbying from Melbourne-based clubs, the AFL will have phased out Brisbane's 10 per cent retention allowance by the end of the 2007 season. As of yesterday, nine Brisbane players remained out of contract including premiership players Beau McDonald, Robert Copeland and Brad Scott and emerging senior regulars Troy Selwood, Daniel Merrett and Dylan McLaren. Brisbane also has the advantage of being able to take up to nine players on its rookie list under an AFL program designed to fast-track the development of Queensland-born players. This would allow the cash-rich club to invest in two Irish recruits at little risk. Brisbane is not alone in scouring the Irish counties for talent, much to the chagrin of the GAA, the governing body for Gaelic football. Collingwood has been active in chasing Gaelic players after securing Paul Earley, Melbourne's first Irish recruit to play senior AFL football, as a Dublin-based talent scout. Lions football manager Graeme Allan and Brisbane's Irish recruiting specialist, former Collingwood recruiter Gerard Sholly, have spent the past week in Ireland interviewing potential recruits before the Irish team flies to Perth for next Friday night's International Rules Test at Subico Oval. Cavanagh had initial discussions with Allan and Brisbane chief executive Michael Bowers during an earlier Ireland trip in July. It is understood that Cavanagh's partner was working in Brisbane as recently as August. In an interview with the Irish Independent, Cavanagh this week confirmed he had been offered a contract. "There is a contract on the table and I have to make my decision before the end of the International Rules series," Cavanagh said. "I have been offered a contract for a couple of years and I have a lot to weigh up. I have to see if it would suit me to make the transformation. I'm not too sure if my game would be suited to Aussie Rules. But there is a feeling that I have been successful in the GAA and could try my lot in the AFL now." If Cavanagh accepts to follow the path of Jim Stynes, Tadgh Kennelly and more recently, Carlton's hurling-playing O'hAilpin brothers into the AFL, he will represent a different kind of Irish recruit. Whereas Stynes and Kennelly were taken as teenagers - prompting the GAA and AFL to agree on a no-poaching rule during under-17 International Rules series - Cavanagh is 22, a two-time All-Ireland medallist and an established Gaelic football star. Yet the inherent risks of an attempted switch of codes are not lost on Cavanagh, who is part of a new generation of Gaelic footballers pushing for the introduction of semi-professionalism at county level. As it stands, the GAA runs a strictly amateur competition. "If the GAA is going to veer towards semi-professionalism, then I would have more to think about," he said. The Courier Mail Can any of the Irish lads shed some light on these players? Will any be tempted to go? How much do they get paid now?