BACK: Michael Purcell's welcome return.
BACK: Michael Purcell's welcome return. Rob Williams

Ipswich's strange record against 'Hawks


THE Jets will not have to hit 88 miles per hour or wear a puffer vest like Marty McFly but they are going back in time to fix round one.

The Jets will clash with the Blackhawks for the second time this year.

The Blackhawks won the first-round encounter 34-6 at North Ipswich, giving the Jets a football lesson.

It is a strange record playing in Townsville because the Jets have not had to do it too much. Ipswich lead 2-1 in the north.

The Jets and Townsville have played in Ipswich, Townsville, Charters Towers, Brisbane and Winton but only clashed at the home of the Blackhawks three times.

The Jets played against the Blackhawks in Townsville in 2016 and the Jets won 24-12 with Michael Purcell scoring two tries.

They did not clash again in Townsville until 2018 with the Blackhawks winning 22-14 after the Jets were up 14-4 at half-time.

In the finals, the Jets eliminated the Blackhawks 32-12. Overall, it is the Jets' six wins to five.

The Blackhawks are not easy to beat at home. Since 2015, they have managed 39 wins from 53 games with one draw. Townsville have lost two games at home this year from six.

On the road in 2019, the Jets have won five from seven.

Someone who causes plenty of trouble for teams with his aggression is Cowboys' and Blackhawks front rower Tom Gilbert.

Gilbert has been a star for Townsville this season. In round one against the Jets, he scored a try and broke seven tackles and 17 hearts with his try just 26 minutes in that game.

It is hard to believe he was playing Colts 12 months ago and is now part of the Cowboys and terrorising Intrust Super Cup packs.


Ipswich Jets V Northern Price at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday. Ben Shea shrugs off a Pride defender.
Ipswich Jets forward Ben Shea is one of the players the Blackhawks have targeted. Rob Williams

Gilbert was lock for Queensland Residents and will be no stranger to the Jets.

"I will have Ben Shea and Nat Neale on my mind this week,'' Gilbert said.

"They angle their runs and try to get players running off them and then if that doesn't work they can do the hard carry too.

"This is a really important game for us. You're in the back half of the season now so important to start putting together games in a row and that's what Ipswich do well they build and then finish the year strong."

Jets defensive leader Ben White analysed his team's defence. "We seem to have a few problems on our line. It can either be a communication or just spacing," White said.

"We let Wynnum have touch football play the balls and then it can be very hard to defend your line.

"Against the Blackhawks they have big forwards and in round one once they got a roll on it was very hard to stop it.

"We need to number up because their whole pack is dangerous with Chudleigh and Gilbert and they throw a lot of those flat passes for guys you don't think are getting the ball."

Wynnum comebacks

WYNNUM last weekend was a tough trip. It was cold, wet and the Seagulls attacked like a crazy flock.

The Jets had no ball at the start and it never got better from there with the Seagulls being able to keep momentum from the first half and then just fly to the finish line.

The Jets missed 44 tackles and only had 46% of the ball, which makes any football hard.

Two comebacks took place at Wynnum - Isi Hafoka and Michael Purcell returned from injury.

Hafoka has not played since the game against the Devils in round six and Purcell was against Redcliffe in round five.

Purcell was confident that he had done the work and would be right from here.

"I pulled up better than I thought. My game fitness was average, which I still have a lot of improvement to do which hopefully won't take me long at all," Purcell said.

"Overall, I'm excited to be back on the field and playing and being a part of the team."

When questioned on his new goal-kicking skill, Purcell gave an insight into when that started.

"I've been practicing goal kicking. At first, it was a mental thing to get my hands back on the ball and to just kick," Purcell said.

"I started to really enjoy it and every training session my partner Grace had, I would go with her, even on a Sunday when she had training down in Coomera for the Broncos team.

"For the first time before our pre-game training session I was first at the training field, just because I like practising Grace said she would come and kick the ball back to me which was fun for both of us because she needed to practice kicking as well. Therefore, that is why I thought I would have a shot on Saturday."

While Hafoka was unhappy with the result, he was content to be back playing.

"I pulled up well and just happy to be back helping the guys out and playing Jets footy,'' Hafoka said.

Hafoka made some telling runs contributing 107 metres and 16 hard runs.

Cooper's stat

BEN and Shane Walker will coach Intrust Super Cup game 210 against the Blackhawks. Rick Stone has coached 209 games.

A cold beer with . . .

Chris Close came to town to play for Valleys in 1979. He became a Dolphin and a Sea Eagle and ended a Giant on the Gold Coast. At Origin, time "Choppy" gets a look in his eye. We sat down, had a drink and talked about it all.

How did you end up at Valleys? I was playing at Cunnamulla and a mate of mine Tom Dugan was at Valleys. I had a good year in 1978. I scored 54 tries and Valleys brought me down to Brisbane for the next year. We won the competition against Souths. I got an offer from Redcliffe at the end of the year, which was massive, about $35,000 and I moved to Redcliffe.

Can we mention the 1981 grand final? I missed that game. I was suspended for four weeks for belting Cavil Hugh in the last round. You were not allowed any representation at the QRL judiciary so I have gone in there said all the wrong things as a young bloke and got four weeks. I appealed and they said you need new evidence to appeal so I have gone back with the trusty VHS with an angle from the ABC that was going to clear me. Press play and I had been given the wrong tape so up comes Charles and Diana's wedding. I am fast-forwarding and rewinding trying to find it. One of the judiciary people said: "My wife made me watch this for nine hours the other night, I am not watching it again." I got another two weeks.

Do you have a favourite Ipswich footballer? One of my most vivid childhood football memories is going to watch Great Britain v Ipswich at the North Ipswich Reserve. It just opened my eyes to rugby league and I wanted to be part of it from then on.

You played for Queensland in 1979 then Origin rolls around. What did you think of the concept? It was different then. Things were not debated in different forums in the media, just rather crept up. We played the first two under the interstate rules and Queensland was beaten. Rohan Hancock and myself went away with the Australian team and we came back to find out the last game was going to be Origin. We realised how serious it was when Arthur sat us all down to explain very clearly, what this meant. I know that Origin is probably how I am defined but in my eyes, I do not want Queensland league to start in 1980. I want everyone to know about those men who played for Queensland under the old rules who toiled so hard.

First two man-of-the-match awards in Origin history, what did you get for winning the award? I got $1300 for the game, $1000 for the award and I got man of the series so got a $1500 hi fi system for home.

You were Queensland manager for 12 years. Did you enjoy the role? I loved every single minute of it. Tosser Turner asked me to do it and I said try and stop me. Tosser funded that out of his own pocket. He knew the role was important and wanted a young man in there so he funded the role and my pay. The next year the QRL put me on full time and paid me.