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Evergreen Blue earns international selection

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As he readies for his 17th season and closes in on his 300th senior game for the Carlton Football Club, the evergreen Kade Simpson has fittingly earned another green and gold guernsey – one of six players added to the 22-man Australian squad for the upcoming two-test International Rules Series with Ireland.

Simpson becomes the first Carlton player in four years to participate in International Rules since Chris Yarran and Zach Tuohy in the 2013 series. Yarran represented the touring Indigenous team and Tuohy the resident Irish combination in the two Tests comprehensively won by Ireland at Cavan’s Breffni Park (57-35) and Croke Park (116-37).

‘Simmo’s’ call-up for the Tests in Adelaide and Perth comes more than ten years after the 33 year-old first represented his country in the compromised Australian Rules-Gaelic game, and seven since his last Test appearance, as vice-captain to Adam Goodes.

As a member of Australia’s 2006 touring party in the company of then Carlton teammates Brendan Fevola (later sent home) and Matthew ‘Skinny’ Lappin, Simpson participated in the Test won by Ireland 48-40 at Galway’s Pearse Stadium and the follow-up by Australia 69-31 before a record attendance of 82,127 at Dublin’s Croke Park.

Such was Simpson’s impact in’08 that he was awarded the Jim Stynes Medal for Australia’s best player of the series – a medal first won by Carlton’s current List Manager Stephen Silvagni back in 1998.

A young 'Simmo' poses with Richmond's Andrew Raines ahead of the 2006 series. (Photo: AFL Photos)

In 2008, Simpson and Carlton captain Marc Murphy flew the flag for Australia in the Subiaco Oval and MCG Tests, hard-earned by Ireland 48-40 102-97 respectively. Two years later, he was one of three Blues - together with Bryce Gibbs and Eddie Betts - amongst the tourists who defeated Ireland (47-40) at Limerick Gaelic Grounds and again at Croke Park (55-52)

Ireland currently holds the Cormac McAnnellen Trophy, the legacy of its victory in the one-off Test at Croke Park in Dublin in 2015. All up, the Irish have taken out 10 Test series to Australia’s nine, and lead the winning Test match count 21-17 with drawn matches having occurred in the second Tests of 1999 and 2002. 

Australia hosts Ireland at Adelaide Oval on Sunday, November 12 and Domain Stadium on Saturday, November 18, under the watch of coach Chris Scott and coaching panelists Ross Lyon and Brad Scott.

The Australian captain and leadership group will be named when members of the Australian squad, Simpson included, meet in Adelaide next week.

Beyond the series, Carlton’s little big man will once again home in on the impending pre-season and the 2018 home and away campaign - which, all being well, will see him surpass Justin Madden (287) to become this club’s fifth highest games player on record, then front for game No.300 in the 15th round against Port Adelaide on the MCG.