OUT OF MY WAY: Ipswich High's Ilai Tuia and his mates in the engine room will need to be on their games as two of the biggest schoolboy packs in the country go head-to-head.
OUT OF MY WAY: Ipswich High's Ilai Tuia and his mates in the engine room will need to be on their games as two of the biggest schoolboy packs in the country go head-to-head. Rob Williams

Knockout 'beast' to pressure test Ipswich

RUGBY LEAGUE: Twice before in 2016 and 2017 Ipswich High qualified second only to stumble in round one of the championship phase.

The current crop is absolutely hellbent that they will not share the same grim fate.

"They are aware of the history and they have been working hard to ensure that is not their legacy,” coach Josh Bretherton said.

In this rugby league battle, Ipswich faces Wavell SHS at a neutral Wynnum venue from 3.30pm on Thursday.

The duel will not be fought at 20 paces. Wavell possesses several NRL-contracted players and the biggest schoolboy pack in the Langer Cup. Its heartbeat is Queensland representative prop JJ Clarkson. Ipswich too is strong through the middle and will meet fire with fire.

Ipswich has beaten Wavell already this season, albeit by the narrowest of two point margins, with Lachlan Williamson slotting a penalty after the siren from just inside the sideline.

Bretherton said elimination football was a different beast and the ability of his charges to handle the heat in the furnace would be critical.

He said the intensity was expected to reach unprecedented levels as each schoolboy outfit struggled for survival and leaders Williamson, Deijion Leugaimafa and Paea Fe'ao would be vitally influential.

"The obvious difference is pressure, which you don't get throughout the season,” he said.

"If you don't get it right the season is over, so you have that hanging over your head. "Pressure can be hard to deal with for anyone but particularly for young men.”

Bretherton said having only dropped the one game against Keebra Park and beaten Wavell already the emerging footballers must approach the game armed with an unwavering self-belief.

He said Wavell had a long and proud history of success which they would be striving to continue and his players needed to be awake to the threat.

"We can't afford to look ahead given the quality of Wavell,” Bretherton said.

"We just want to get through this one and get a knockout game under our belt.”

It has been eight weeks since Ipswich High last took the field. With the exception of a spate of flu which struck the camp several weeks back, preparations have been going smoothly. Niggling injuries have healed and players are in peak condition and ready to excel.

Bretherton said the predominant mood amongst the side was excitement, with each player focusing on their own individual roles.

He said more would be known about the National Championship credentials of his side at full-time.

"We don't really know how we are going to go until we prove to ourselves we can do it under pressure,” he said.

If Ipswich State High School is victorious it will set up a round two encounter with the winner of Keebra Park v Mabel Park SHS.

Ipswich State High School 1st XIII squad: Deijion Leugaimafa, Montell Newman, Elone Taufa, Bill Gase, Watjerra Briggs, Waylon Fiaii, Lachlan Williamson, Ilai Tuia, Wyatt So'otaga, Ezekiel Figota, Paea Fe'ao, Valu Lisati, Segisolo Lapana, Riley Morris, Stanley Fiso, Eremiah Babia, Shane Tolova'A, Kaya Cuthers.