Former Ipswich Grammar School student Sam Walker displays plenty of control in his NRL debut.
Former Ipswich Grammar School student Sam Walker displays plenty of control in his NRL debut.

Rising star displays skill as Jets prepare for next threat


Michael Nunn

THE collective noun for Falcons is a cast and this Saturday a Sunshine Coast cast of 17 Falcons will be looking to grab a Jet in their talons and inflict some major damage at their nest.

The Jets haven't beaten the Falcons since 2018 when they won by a point with a Sam Caslick field goal on the Sunshine Coast and by 32-28 in Ipswich.

It was a dark day in 2019 when Harry Grant and Nicho Hynes picked the eyes out the Jets 62-8.

The Jets have led the Falcons overall 13 wins to six with two draws and on the Sunshine Coast Ipswich has won six from 10 games.

We come to 2021 and the Jets haven't won a game yet and the Falcons have one win from two games.

Falcons coach Sam Mawhinney is wary of the Jets.

"I think a few teams will take a while to get moving this year because of the lay off and I think the Jets will be one of those teams,'' Mawhinney said.

"We aren't reading too much into the two losses because we think it is only a matter of time before they bounce back.

"Any team with a front row of Nat Neale and Tyson Lofipo isn't going to be down for too long.

"For us Saturday will be about making sure we are building on our last round against the Magpies.''

Ipswich coach Keiron Lander knows what he wants to see and not see when he comes home from the Coast on Saturday.

"I hope Craig Bellamy doesn't drop Ryan Papenhuyzen, I don't think he needs to play for the Falcons,'' Lander said.

"The Falcons will be tough; Murphy and Baptiste will be enough on their own.

"We have something to fix but I feel like we are getting there. We fixed some things and did some things really well against the Hunters.

"We have a young team and we are working hard at making sure we play well this week."

Top clashes

ONE of the match ups from Saturday that will bring people through the gate will be the battle of the hookers.

The Intrust Super Cup has a rich history of hookers in Parcell, Granville, Butterfield and Roberts.

A new chapter can be written on Saturday when Jet Kierran Moseley and Falcon Kurt Baptiste line up.

Baptiste has enjoyed a great start to the year. Baptiste has played 17 Intrust Super Cup games across his NRL career of 79 games.

Baptiste's impact can be seen across the game. He gives great service that is smart and utilises the skills of the other Falcons.

Against the Magpies, Baptiste goes the short side and throws a long pass that gets Jack Wright a try.

"We got lucky against the Magpies so we have a few things to work on this week," Baptiste said.

"Jets are always dangerous and Kierran Moseley will be a big part of that, we have to control the ruck and that will limit his running

"If he looks up and sees tired players he will run.

Can the Jets expect to see any sneaky Harry Grant injury comebacks on Saturday.

"I don't expect to see Harry Grant on the Sunshine Coast unless he's having a holiday."

Ipswich Jet Kierran Moseley.
Ipswich Jet Kierran Moseley.

The Jets best has been Kierran Moseley who plugs the middle of the field for the Jets with his 65 tackles across the first two games.

Moseley is also a weapon in attack with two tries, two-line breaks and five tackle breaks. But isn't entertaining a move out wider.

"Too many hard decisions to make out there," Moseley laughed.

"I will stay in the middle thanks.

"Baptiste is a quality hooker but you need to shut down the ruck and have good pressure that's how you beat a hooker.

"You can't shut down a hooker by focusing individually on him."

Walker magic

FORMER Ipswich Jets Mal Meninga Cup player Sam Walker became Rooster number 1199 at the SCG last Sunday.

At 18 years and 292 days, Walker is the eighth youngest halfback to debut since 1998. He was also a full week younger than Cam Smith when he debuted in 2002 at half for the Storm against the Bulldogs - eight weeks before Walker was born.

Walker played halfback for the Roosters after a season-ending injury to Luke Keary against the Rabbitohs last week. It took 25 minutes for Walker to unleash a try assist but when he did it was great to see.

Before the try assist Walker built his debut on defence and kicking, showing a level of maturity. The Warriors threw Jack Murchie and Marcelo Montoya at him and he handled it well.

When James Tedesco went through on the right-hand side there was Walker running in support yelling Teddy.

Then after he had settled in he moved to second gear in attack.

Walker drifted across the face of the Warriors, dragged in Sean O'Sullivan and passed a great ball to Nat Butcher who ran over for the try.

Walker showed plenty of poise and settled in nicely to his task of getting the Roosters around the field and contributing to their 32-12 win.

The standout for me was at half time when Fox showed the Roosters dressing room there was Walker talking to his forwards like Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who has played 240 NRL games and a three-time premiership winner but Walker was just quietly explaining and encouraging. That's massive football intelligence.

Like a Test player on Boxing Day debut who smokes it through the covers for four and knows he belongs Walker had his moment and knew it would work out.

"I think my first tackle," Walker said.

"I made that tackle and thought right I am good here.

"I was so well prepared, the way we train and Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary spent the whole week telling me to use the building blocks of kick and defence and then add to that later on.

"There was no surprises it was everything I thought it would be, very happy."

Roosters chairman and former Ipswich Grammar student Nick Politis were at the SCG to watch his Roosters and Walker play the Warriors.

"What an incredible story. I am so proud to be an IGS old boy today, so happy for Sam,'' Politis said.

"He moved through the gears nicely and then did some really nice things.

"I think the FOX numbers would have been up. The whole of Ipswich was watching Sam play.

"What a great family - Gary, Trish and Ben and Kylie just great people."

Cooper's stat

SAM Walker: 80 minutes, two points, nine runs, 52 metres, one-line break, one try assist, two tackle breaks and 17 tackles.