Meticulous Jets target Magpies
As the Ipswich Jets climb up the Intrust Super Cup ladder, they know preparation is paramount if they are to continue to rise.
In their Thursday night video session, the Jets analyse and plan meticulously ahead of the clash with Souths Logan Magpies.
"We know Souths were pumped by Sunshine Coast last week,” Ben Walker addresses the session.
"It's a team choc-full of Broncos. I think there are about eight in there.
"When teams are coming off a heavy loss they can get their back up, so the last two weeks mean nothing.
"They are very talented individually.”
Walker went on to identify a number of threats in a short but sharp session.
Each co-coach contributes, commanding attention and engaging the 20 odd grown footballers packed into the demountable building.
The instruction is clear, concise and easily understood.
Players are critiqued in precise detail, their techniques and games broken down and schemes devised.
Being invited into the inner sanctum offers a rare insight into the routine and processes of an elite Intrust Super Cup side. But there is some classified information that even the Jets choose to keep closely guarded.
It is no secret, however, that the Ipswich Jets will have their hands full when they come up against a Magpies outfit boasting a number of players to have played NRL.
Among them are up-and-coming Broncos Jaydn Su'A, Patrick Mago, Shaun Fensom, Fanitesi Niu, Tanah Boyd and former Sharks premiership player Sam Tagataese.
Despite the stacked line-up, the 12th placed Magpies have endured a lean start to the season, securing just two wins.
As Walker points out, in their last start Souths were annihilated and humiliated by a rampant Sunshine Coast Falcons 72-4.
Whereas the eighth placed Jets sit on eight points. They have improved progressively throughout the season and after dispatching of the Central Queensland Capras at Woorabinda, it appears to be coming together for them.
In particular, halves Julian Christian and Josh Cleeland have formed a dynamic combination and are starting to show some real promise.
Following his 18-point match-winning effort for the Queensland Residents, Cleeland returns to the Ipswich line-up with self-belief at an all-time high.
"It was a good experience to play for my state and to play against a quality New South Wales side like I did,” he said.
"You get a lot out of that and confidence is up after getting the win.”
With Souths possessing a monstrous pack and plenty of heavy artillery, the Jets are predicting a torrid encounter.
Cleeland said his team would need to pay close attention to the Magpies NRL contingent.
"They all play for the Broncos for a reason,” he said.
"They are all big threats. We just need to manage them and do our best to stop their fends and offloads.
"It's obviously going to be a physical one. Our boys have got a big job ahead of them. But we've been training for it and we'll give it our best.”
The fast-stepping playmaker will be looking to keep the ball alive as much as possible to give him a chance to carve up the big men toward the back-end of each half.
"They've got big boys, so if we hold onto the ball longer than them, they should tire out quicker but we'll see how we go,” he said.
Both sides should be fresh after enjoying a break due to last weekend's representative round. Walker expects the time off to prove advantageous for his troops.
He is also counting on Cleeland to bring back some of the magical form he showed while donning maroon.
"We expect to play well. we've had two weeks off,” he said.
"We've been freshened up.
"It's great to have Josh back. He played well for Queensland, so he'll come here with plenty of confidence.”
Walker said fixtures between the two rugby league heartland areas of Ipswich and Logan were always fiercely competitive and the Jets would do nothing out of the ordinary on Sunday.
"They are always tough games,” he said.
"We're extremely confident with our guys and how we're playing, and we know we'll do a good job.”