Queensland State of Origin player Michael Morgan.
Queensland State of Origin player Michael Morgan. DAVE HUNT

Jets keen to preserve home ground edge

THE Mackay Cutters face an added challenge of their own heading to Ipswich on Saturday.

The North Ipswich Reserve hasn't been a happy place for the Cutters.

Mackay hasn't won in Ipswich since 2013.

On that occasion in round 16, it was Mackay 20 (Kalifa Faifai Loa, Chris Gesch, Matt Minto, Liam Taylor tries; Taylor 2 goals) defeating Ipswich 18 (Jarrod McInally 2, Jacob Ling tries; Doanld Malone 3 goals).

The Cutters' record in Ipswich won't be pleasant reading for them having only won twice at the Reserve and once at Briggs Road.

Although they did win a grand final at the Reserve in 2013.

The Jets have won four out of the past five games between these two sides.

The Jets have it over the Cutters in the overall wins 12-6.

The Jets are coming off the bye while the Cutters got beaten by the Bears 28-16.

The Cutters are in eighth spot and on 24 points, compared to the Jets seventh spot on 26 points.

The Cutters have scored 11 more points than the Jets this season and the Jets have let in 11 less points in defence.

My Cutter to watch is Cooper Brambling.

He's played 21 games this year for the Cutters and scored 51 points with nine tries and seven goals.

He's a busy half who likes to get his hands on the ball.

He will test the Jets going down short sides and with his kicking game.

Old Boy's day a favourite

IT'S Old Boy Day on Saturday, one of my favourite events of the year.

It's a chance for all ex-Jets to come together and catch up.

For someone like me - a primary school teacher who could barely catch - it's a chance to meet players I watched as a child. Nothing can be much better for a Jets' fan.

I love the day because it reminds me of watching football at the Reserve, hot chips, Dan Coburn, Alf, Kevvie, Ovens, Kaatz's mullet and an Andrew Walters' off-load.

My wife will roll her eyes and say it's only football Michael, but she has never got sacred North Ipswich dirt on her hands or kicked a ball at half time. That stuff gets into your soul.

I have worked for the Jets for nine years in November but still get excited about Saturday.

Remember that Jet?

JET #341 made his debut for the Jets in 2000 and played 68 games scoring 21 tries.

Andrew Hamilton came to the Jets because of then CEO Craig Teevan who knew Andrew from the Crushers.

Hamilton would play three years and also play in the 2002 Grand Final loss to Redcliffe.

"That was a team three years in the making. It was really built out of hard work. We had such great players, Ricky Bird and Dan Coburn were standouts for us,'' he said.

"They were great times and great memories at the Jets."

Andrew lives in Bundaberg and takes great satisfaction in the way the current Jets play.

"I would have loved to play like the Jets play,'' he said.

Andrew currently works in construction but will be changing to an ANZ bank manager in Bundaberg in a few weeks.

Vital support

ZOO Sport was announced as the new clothing supplier for the Jets from next year.

I spoke to FOG # 5, Manly, Redcliffe and Valleys' legend Chris Close who is the Zoo Sport Business Development Director about why the Jets and Zoo Sport were a match.

"Jets are a marque club, with a proud league history in Ipswich; probably one of the greatest league cities,'' he said. "That's why Zoo Sport need to be involved with a high performing club like the Jets.

"We can provide compression wear, gym wear and corporate wear. We do everything."

I had to ask the question of Choppy: Will you be providing bucket hats for red headed Jets' staff?

"For sure, we sell buckets hats to schools all the time and kids love them,'' he said.

Cooper's stat

NAT Neale was the Jets' top tackler last season with 671. He's already gone past that this year with 708.

Stat leaders

THE Jets' stats leaders with two rounds to go are: Defence - Most tackles: Nat Neale 708.

Attack: Most runs - Richard Pandia 304. Most tackle breaks: Nat Neale 95. Most off-loads: Nat Neale 71. Most line breaks: Michael Purcell 13. Most metres: Nem Valekapa 2596m. Most post contact metres: Nem Valekapa 1077m. Most tries: Michael Purcell 21. Most try assists: Dane Phillips 9.

A cold beer with . . .

BEFORE Michael Morgan was doing his thing for the Cowboys, Queensland and Australia, he played 21 games for the Cutters. Morgan scored 13 tries and won an Intrust Super Cup premiership. I put on my Cowboy hat and ordered a XXXX Gold and asked Morgan about Cutters v Jets.

What do you think of the football the Jets play now in the ISC? It's a different style they've come up with something that works for them, it won them a competition in 2015. It's certainly not conventional like most teams.

You won the ISC premiership with Mackay in 2013, what are your memories of that season? Cutters weren't supposed to win it that's for sure. We got into the top five and then lost to Easts early in the finals. From there a few things went our way which is always good in footy. We had a really strong team with lots of Cowboys and having Jason Taumalolo certainly helped. He made it look pretty easy at times that year.

Do you get to watch much ISC anymore? I like to watch the TV game and I go to Blackhawks' games. I actually watched them this year against the Jets.