Long wait over as Jets prepare to strike first
THERE are a lot of things I would happily go 12 months without doing like writing report cards or trimming those hedges down the side of my place.
However, the Jets aren't one of those things I have enjoyed being without.
One year and six days after the Jets and Blackhawks last clashed, round one is here and football is back for 2021 in Ipswich.
After one game last year, it is time for hot chips and football at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday.
The Jets and Blackhawks have clashed six times at the North Ipswich Reserve. Our northern foes are ahead four wins to two.
The Jets have not beaten the Townsville Blackhawks in Ipswich since round two in 2018. Overall the Blackhawks have edged in front seven wins to six.
Leading the Blackhawks for his third game against the Jets will be Aaron Payne, who has a 100% record against the Jets.
Payne is sure that the longer than usual off-season won't affect Townsville.
"Everyone is in the same situation so we aren't any better off or worse off than any other team," Payne said.
"What I have noticed is that our guys are probably a bit stronger because they've been able to keep doing weights over the lay-off.
"The trade off has been probably down in skill execution because you can't do too much on your own.''
Payne was definite about his monitoring of some Jets.
"Tyson Lofipo, great off-load and terrific footwork; Jayden Connors and Kierran Moseley,'' he said.
"Moseley is great at identifying the ruck, very smart.''
Payne has noticed a few subtle changes around the Jets form and priorities.
"I think under Lander I have noticed a greater emphasis on defence. That's what he prided himself on and he is making his team about that as well."
On the other side coaching the Jets again in 2021, in his second game in charge, will be Keiron Lander.
"We know what Townsville will provide; they're a strong club, they will punch through and kick behind us with big players," Lander said.
"We need to counter that and be prepared for what they do but not forget that we then need to play football too.
"We are just so excited to bring football back to Ipswich and be ready to go.
"We will have some new Jets and they have earned their spots through hard work."
Players to watch
THE battles of the hookers will light up the North Ipswich Reserve this week.
In round one last season, Jets' hooker Kierran Moseley made a game high 40 tackles and played the full 80 minutes. This week will bring together two great number nines.
With rule changes and potentially a hot day, the hookers will hold the keys to castle on Saturday.
Cameron King is returning to the Intrust Super Cup with the Blackhawks.
King played for the Northern Pride in 2014 and 2015 while he was with the Cowboys.
King played 22 games, scoring five tries and seven goals in his previous stint in the Intrust Super Cup.
King played 43 NRL games and will be a welcome addition to coach Aaron Payne's dummy half rotation.
"Our form has been improving throughout the off-season we were better against the Pride,'' King said.
"This week we will prepare for the Jets and I am sure Aaron Payne will have us ready to go.
"It's about getting us right first."
On the other side of the scrum from King will be Jets hooker Moseley. He will be playing his 43rd game for the Jets and his 81st match in the Intrust Super Cup.
"Hookers are so important at the moment, and as teams tire and with the six-to-go rule they can determine results," Moseley said.
"Any hooker will tell you that your impact is decided by your forwards.
"If we don't control the ruck and get good ball sets with quick play the balls than you can't attack.
"We need to get our forward momentum and on the back of that we can play football and decide games."
Appreciating the defence force
SINCE 1940, Amberley Air Base has stood watch over Ipswich and the country.
It is home to 5000 defence personnel.
The Jets will be representing Ipswich's proud RAAF history on Saturday when they tangle with the Townsville Blackhawks representing the army.
Senior Australian Defence Force Officer RAAF Base Amberley, Group Captain Iain Carty, CSM started at the base in 1997 and knows the history and significance to Ipswich.
"RAAF Base Amberley has been a part of the Ipswich community and region for over 80 years and has a long affiliation with the Ipswich Jets Rugby League Club through the playing group, support staff and their supporter base,'' he said.
"We are confident the Jets will achieve their mission to defeat the Blackhawks through precision strike, speed and communication on the field, and we wish them all the best as they represent air force."
Plenty to work on
THE Ipswich Jets Mal Meninga Cup side tackled the Bears in round two at home at the North Ipswich Reserve.
Jets coach Michael Armstrong might feel more like the Bears mauled the Jets with the Jets losing 44-16.
The Jets only had 38% of the ball and missed 70 tackles putting huge pressure on the Jets and in the end they couldn't hold on.
"There is not a lot of positives today," Armstrong said.
"We scored first inside five minutes but from there it was all Bears.
"After we scored first we then had the ball three more times in the half.
"It's hard or almost impossible to win games when you have the ball three times.
"It puts too much pressure on your defence and we need to learn that and move forward.
"We play Souths at home this week, we just need to dust ourselves off and control the ball that's who wins games and it is simply not what we did against the Bears."
Armstrong was able to single out some players who didn't stop trying.
"Josiah Pahulu never quit the whole day and our bench tried really hard to lift the team when they came on,'' he said.
IN 13 games between the teams, the Jets have scored 45 tries while the Blackhawks have jagged 51.