Farewell Ben: Jets plot revenge bid rich in motivation
MY mum would say revenge isn't an admirable quality but she never had to sit through the Sunshine Coast racking up 62 points.
It was a dark day in late May when the Jets were on the end of their biggest ever home defeat.
Beaten 62-8 by the Sunshine Coast Falcons, the Jets were picked up and dragged back to the Falcons nest.
Ipswich has won six from nine games at the Sunshine Coast. Last year the Jets got the cash by a point with a late Sam Caslick field goal.
Heading to the Sunshine Coast for Sunday's latest match, the Jets still lead overall with 13 wins to six by the Coast.
The Falcons are to be feared and admired. They have racked up some massive scores this year. Three times they've got past 50, twice past 60 and once hit 70.
That's 828 points and only 264 against.
The Jets are coming off an impressive win over the Cutters where they dominated every facet of the game but somehow took until the 75th minute to ice the win.
The Jets had a massive 57% of the ball, made the Cutters make 38 more tackles and miss 64 tackles.
Scoring two tries was Jets fullback Michael Purcell. He reflected on the Cutters and looked forward to the looming Falcons.
"We did a lot of little things right against the Cutters," Purcell said.
"We stayed calm and were ready to wait until the end of the game to win.
"We have to apply the same skills against the Falcons for our last game."
The Falcons are coming away from a trip to the South Coast with a 20-14 win over the Bears. The win had plenty of resilience minus Harry Grant.
Ben's last hurrah as co-coach
ON Sunday, co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker will guide the Jets for the 219th time in the Intrust Super Cup and 220th overall, including the State Championship game against Newcastle.
Ben and Shane have 121 wins, 90 losses and seven draws from 218 games.
The current ISC record is held by Wayne Treleaven, who coached Norths and Wests to 218 games.
"I am very happy for Ben and Shane Walker,'' Treleaven said.
"The two things I am most happy about is that they're good guys and they've done it their way. They won a premiership playing their football.
"It's a hard time to work and coach at the ISC level. You need a good family who supports you and to coach for 219 games is a great achievement.''
The record-beaking game against the Falcons will be Ben's last match coaching the Jets with Shane.
"I won't get emotional,'' Ben said. "I am not dying just moving on from this stage of my life.
"It's fun being on the sideline, no doubt about it, but time for something different.
"We have had the coaching philosophy one in one out. Someone has to come in and do the job and that is all that is happening here."
Shane expressed a similar feeling about going on without Ben.
"We will sit down and have a beer at the end but there won't be much emotion attached to the day," Shane said.
"Ben only has about 20 cents worth of emotion in him. He will have used that on something else by 3pm."
Nat leads the way where it matters
IF you sit in the Jets' dressing room before a game waiting to be inspired by Nat Neale's words you will leave without inspiration.
If you wait 80 minutes and then come back, you will feel inspired and he will not have said a word.
All you have to do is watch. His approach is "just follow me''.
Neale will be the fourth Jet to play 150 games on Sunday.
He will join Dan Coburn, Tyson Lofipo and Brendon Marshall in the special club.
Neale made his debut for the Jets in 2011 against the Easts Tigers.
Tyson Lofipo is not only a member of the 150 club but also Neale's roomie on trips.
"Should be 150 NRL games but their loss is our gain here at the Jets," Lofipo lamented.
"He plays 80 minutes week in, week out like he's 19. He's a massive role model to a lot of young forwards in our club and will be for many more years to come."
Neale's NRL debut for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2014 came under the coaching of Michael Maguire who is now the Wests Tigers coach.
"Certainly a big congratulations and well done to Nat on what is a great achievement," Maguire said.
"Playing 150 games anywhere is a big milestone and it shows his character - he was always someone who worked extremely hard and was committed to what was required for the team and this is another example of this.
"For him and his teammates, I hope it's a great day and one that is celebrated by the club as a whole because I'm sure it'll be a pretty special occasion."
Pandia's 100 feat reward
"HE hasn't got his hand to that has he?''
I remember asking that over and over again during the State Final against the Knights.
Newcastle's Honeti Tuha has to have got that down. No, Richard Pandia had his hand in there somehow and saved a try.
In 99 games, that's my favourite Richard Pandia moment.
On Sunday he will play his 100th game for the Jets.
Pandia made his debut for the Jets in round 13, 2015 against the PNG Hunters at Kalabond Oval. He was a late inclusion for Liam Capewell.
On debut, Pandia made 14 runs and 118 metres for the Jets with two offloads, a try assist and a line break assist.
His brother Sebastian was on the field for the Hunters the day Richard played his first game.
"I can't think of anything I love about him cause I do everything for him from house chores to even playing footy,'' Sebastian joked as only a brother can. "Me playing in the forwards doing all the tackles and hit-ups while he scores tries and get the glory.
"The thing that stood out for me and I admire him for is playing the game hard and fair and giving his all for the team.
"Richard always shows compassion to the opposing player when they get injured or commit an awful mistake. He goes up to check on them or give them a pat on the back to cheer them up."
Sebastian said Richard was supposed to make his debut against him in 2014 in Kokopo, but the Walker boys decided not to and made him 18th man instead.
"I returned from a trial selection game for Port Moresby Vipers to play for our team when our coach promoted Richard to play hooker while I was pushed into the centres,'' Sebastian recalls.
"I scored two tries that day because I demanded the ball a lot and he just gave it to me every time.
"I got scared when he was defending in the middle against the older big guys so I left my right centre spot to come assist him in the middle till he did a one on one tackle against a current Kumuls five-eight Jesse Joe and dumped him flat on the ground.
"He has always found a way."
'He's from Ipswich', dad knows best
I WATCHED a lot of football with my dad growing up. Saturday afternoons after mowing was time to sit and watch the game on the ABC with Arthur Beetson commentating. Dad had this habit of commentating on Ipswich players.
Jason Hetherington takes a scoot from dummy half. "He played for the Jets,'' dad would say.
Willie Carne' scores in the corner. "He went to IGS,'' dad would explain.
While some children went to bed with more traditional stories, I fell to sleep with stories of Des Morris, Gary Coyne and Rod Morris.
I noticed I do the same thing the other day. Kurt Capewell skips across the front of the defence probing for a hole. "He played for the Jets Bec'," I told my wife.
Bec doesn't look up but I think it's still important so I say it.
One story I grew up on from dad and grandpa was how in 1960 Australia v France in Sydney had the all-Ipswich front row.
I have walked past the mural of the three men in their Australian gear outside the North Ipswich Reserve a lot.
Gary Parcell, Dud Beattie and Noel Kelly would go into battle against the French flying the Australian colours and a bit of green and white too.
Earlier this season I got to interview Kelly for my column and on Saturday I introduced myself to the great man and told him we have spoken on the phone.
"My journalist friend," Noel said.
I will take that from a member of the Australian, Queensland and Wests Magpies team of the century.
Last weekend's Jets Old Boys function was a dream come true.
Sitting next to Noel at his table was Gary Parcell. That's two thirds of the Ipswich Australian front row.
I got a photo with the two feared men and sent it to dad.
The magic of Old Boys' Day never fails.
MICHAEL Purcell has 65 tries for the Jets making him the third most tries behind Marmi Barba 80 and Donald Malone on 67.