Ipswich Jets debutant Raymond Baira made an early impact in last Sunday's Intrust Super Cup match against Norths.
Ipswich Jets debutant Raymond Baira made an early impact in last Sunday's Intrust Super Cup match against Norths. Rob Williams

Ipswich eager to end winless trek to PNG



IT is not Easter eggs that the Jets will be after on Saturday afternoon.

The Jets were on their way to PNG to take on the Hunters to try and find two points for the first time in that country.

It will take more than a half-eaten carrot on the kitchen bench to fool the Hunters.

The Jets have never won at the home of the Hunters.

The Jets have lost five times in PNG.

In 2014, it was the Hunters winning 40-28; in 2015, the Hunters got up 40-22; in 2016, it was Hunters' 18-16; in 2017, the Hunters got the cash 20-4; in 2018, it was 22-12.

Overall, the Hunters lead the Jets seven wins to four. All four of the Jets' wins came at North Ipswich and Wynnum.

From 60 games at their home ground, the Hunters have won a staggering 52 times, with one draw and seven losses.

The Hunters are coming off their first win of the year against the Capras. The Hunters dominated possession with 54% of the ball.

The Jets were beaten by the Devils at home last Sunday.

Jets fullback Denzel Burns is looking forward to the challenge that the Hunters present.

"If I get the opportunity to go over and play it will be my first time,'' he said. "Which will be a great experience.

"I am looking forward to the challenge that the culture and football present."



Ipswich Jets V Norths Devils Intrust Super Cup match played at North Ipswich Reserve on April 14, 2019. Tyson Lofipo.
Ipswich Jets forward leader Tyson Lofipo expects to deal with a different crowd experience in PNG this weekend. Rob Williams

Jets forward leader Tyson Lofipo, who produced 12 hard carries against the Devils, had this to say about the road trip.

"You have to weather their storm early and keep the ball off them because like us they can score a long range try just like that, and also match their enthusiasm that's a key,'' Lofipo said.

"Once they start scoring the crowd gets behind them and they just go up."

Extra planning for overseas game

PNG is a tough road trip that requires plenty of planning and thought. Many teams have gone to the Hunters ground and come unstuck.

Co-coach Ben Walker spoke about what was ahead for the Jets this week.

"We are going to go the day before and then come home the day after,'' Walker said.

"We have never stayed the two nights before so hopefully that helps.

"Treating it just like going to Cairns is important and we have had success there.

"It's culturally very different and it's a hard place to make your debut so we might have a few guys playing their first game and they will have to adapt and cope with that change.

"It's not just the home ground.

"Over the years, the Hunters have had very good teams. That also helps with never losing at home."

Norths review big play

THE Jets were down by 10 and with 19 minutes gone in the second half when Ipswich scored a great try that gave the Jets momentum.

My Norths' game big play involved Kierran Moseley and Denzel Burns.

Moseley is running right to left probing for a hole and Norths are taking the bait, when Moseley has the Devils committed he gets his arm free and Burns does the rest.

I sat with Burns and Moseley and re-watched the try.

Denzel spoke about anticipating the pass. "I push to be a support player in every play so when the opportunity comes I'm there to finish it off,'' he explained.

"I could see Kierran drawing in players and as he squared up I knew where to be and could see he was going to offload."

Burns has three tries in six games.

With Michael Purcell out of action for a while with a broken arm, there is a chance for him to have an impact.

Burns' busy game would include a line break, try and 118 metres.

Moseley probed away at the Devils' line in the first half coming up short, the second time was successful with Burns reading the offload.

"In the first half their fullback was shallow,'' Moseley said. "We did the same play but the cover got Denzel, so second half I took off again and he pushed up.

"The fullback couldn't get across this time."

New Jets share views

THE Jets had two players on debut last Sunday against Norths.

Shar Walden and Ray Baira played their first game for Ipswich.

Walden is Jet number 595 and Baira 596.

Both debutants talked about their first game.

"I found out on the Thursday night and Nat Neale and Tyson Lofipo helped me to feel so comfortable and ready to go,'' Walden said.

"Ben and Shane just said get the ball early and that will settle you down.

"I wasn't on the field for too long but I tried to just be involved."

Ray Baira came off the bench and played with confidence, after Ben and Shane gave specific instructions.

"They said don't worry about mistakes just do what you want,'' Baira said.

"I found it fast a lot faster than what I normally play, but it was enjoyable."

Bisho's season summary

THE Jets Mal Meninga season has come to an end. The Jets finished just outside finals on eight points.

Jets coach Mark Bishop reviewed his 2019 campaign.

"The season is short so you can't afford to drop any games, once you lose once you're in real danger of missing out,'' Bishop said

"We lost two so we finished just outside but you know that going in that it's short and you don't have time to find your way.

"It's a bit like a 20/20 game, no point wishing it was a Test match."

Bishop reflected on the Jets' best efforts.

"Against Townsville, they were a really big team and we handled that,'' Bishop said.

"Beating Redcliffe was pleasing and the first 25 minutes against Norths was our best for the season.

"Riley Morris was very impressive. He just epitomises Jets' footy, a little guy that has a real crack.

"Sam Walker and Jack Martin were great every week."

Cooper's stat

THE Jets' best attacking third is the middle third with six of the Jets' 15 tries or 40%.

The Jets' best defensive third is also the middle where they let in seven of 28 tries, or a 25% average.

A cold beer with . . .

We found a pub called the Magpie and Raider and just as he did in his playing days, Gary "Badge'' Belcher went to the bar with a swerve and a moustache. I sat down with Badge and talked it all through.

How did you end up at Souths? I was a Souths junior and grew up in the area. All I wanted to do was play for Souths. I played all the way through to first grade and then left in 1986 for the Raiders. I was 18 and at the start of my first season. They divided us up. Backs over there with John Grant and forwards over there with Greg Vieivers. I thought I was a bit of a lock forward so headed over to listen to Vievers. He was instructing players to make sure they raise their elbow just before the tackler gets you high. That way you will get either their nose or teeth with your elbow. I walked back over to the backs and stayed there.

Did you support the Magpies growing up? Bruce Astill was my favourite player. His dad had a lot to do with Souths juniors. I had a chance to play with him at the end of his career and it was a real highlight. When I went to Canberra you would have to do these question-answer profiles. I would always answer Bruce Astill for my favourite player, and they would say "no it has to be a Sydney player''. I would just say "I do not have one''. Just after Mick Reardon scored in the 1981 grand final I got on the field. Bob McCarthy threw us all on the field for the last few minutes. It was a great moment.

Any memories of playing against the Jets in the State League? Wild time out there. Rod Beare would be trying to take your head off and the crowd would be seething.

The Raiders had Gary Coyne, Kevvie Walters and Steve Walters. Who was your favourite Ipswich teammate? I could not pick a favourite. I loved all those people but I will say Gary Coyne was criminally under-rated. Very smart player, very skilful and it was a great reward that he played for Queensland and Australia after years of trying.

So many coaches have come out of that Raiders side, did you foresee that? Not really. I can look back now and see traits. Craig Bellamy was always such a great clubman and he was always welcoming to everyone at the Raiders. If someone was new or trying to crack the team then Craig and his wife would be there taking them in or helping. He just learnt how to manage people and that is what the best coaches do.