PRIZED RING-IN: Ipswich Jet Josh Cleeland is excited by the prospect of playing alongside former West End clubmates in a shortened RLI this season.
Picture: Rob Williams
PRIZED RING-IN: Ipswich Jet Josh Cleeland is excited by the prospect of playing alongside former West End clubmates in a shortened RLI this season. Picture: Rob Williams

Bulldog eyes return

IPSWICH Jets ace Josh Cleeland wants to give back to his junior club the West End Bulldogs in a shortened RLI A-Grade competition this season.

With the QRL cancelling the Intrust Super Cup, there is a strong chance the Jets will join the RLI clubs to get some football under their belts should community football resume.

If the Jets are split among the local squads, their most damaging player hopes to reunite with the club where he cut his footballing teeth.

A Bulldog pup from under-6 to under-18, Cleeland has a long history at Basin Pocket.

With his grandparents Jim and Gail McKenzie long-time Bulldogs' supporters who still have trophies named in their honour, he is no stranger to the club's rich family traditions and has a lasting legacy to fulfil.

"Wherever I start I want to finish," Cleeland said.

"When I came back from Sydney I brought that experience and knowledge back to the Jets, and I would love to do the same for West End."

Jim passed away before Cleeland headed to Sydney in 2016 but Gail is still actively involved at West End.

While the 28-year-old laments the fact his greatest supporter was not alive to see him chase his NRL dream in Sydney, Jim is never far from his thoughts and he would love nothing more than to pull on the Bulldogs jersey and make Gail proud.

"They were there (involved with the club) before I played there," he said.

"They always loved their footy.

"Jim's always on my mind when I play. I'm more focused on not letting the team down but you always want to win, and when you're going through tough spots you think about all of the people who have supported you along the way and you don't want to let anyone down."

West End finished the season in form last year, impressing coach Jae Woodward by sticking it to powerhouses Brothers and Goodna in the final round. They carried that confidence into an effective pre-season and were primed to impact the RLI.

Aware the Bulldogs are on the cusp of something special, Cleeland would relish the chance to repay the club which set him on his rugby league journey if the Jets join the RLI this season.

"They (West End) have been building and trying to do better," he said.

"I'm sure the players and staff would really appreciate players coming back for their old team."