Slater-like Tiger threat for Jets
WHEN my family go to Australia Zoo, I refuse to look at the tigers. If I watch Rocky, I do not even sing Eye of the Tiger.
The Jets are going to Langlands Park this weekend, continuing a rivalry as rich and historical as league itself.
The Easts Tigers are our closest rival, a story built on geography and pride.
The Tigers have won 12 or their past 18 matches against the Jets. Overall, the Tigers lead 26-21 with one draw.
The Jets' record at Lang-lands Park is 10 wins from 22 games with one draw. The Jets beat the Tigers 32-26 last year.
However, the last time we travelled to Tigers headquarters for the 2018 finals, everything came crashing down for the Jets, losing 50-20 to end their season.
The Tigers are coming off a commanding 42-16 win over the Capras.
The Tigers controlled the ball with 54% and made a huge 627 more metres than Central Queensland. The Tigers' defence was outstanding only missing 11 tackles.
The Tigers started with five first half tries and a big part of that was fullback Matt Cooper who made a giant contribution of 197m, which was on the back of his two try assists. Cooper has seven tries this year and is the leading Tiger try scorer.
Cooper looks like he is out of the play and then injects himself to the defence's surprise in an almost Slater play.
"It's a challenge against the Jets. You have to be on constant alert and moving. Communication is also very important," Cooper said.
"Michael Purcell is a key for the Jets.
"The Jets make you run. In the first round I did more running than I have all season."
The Jets had heartbreak at home against the Dolphins, losing 24-22 after the siren last weekend.
Jacob Teevan scored his second try for the Jets and played with great energy all game.
"It's important that you don't dwell on the negatives,'' Teevan said.
"We did a lot right against the Dolphins and obviously we will look at that game and need to improve some things.
"But you have to look at how they had one try for 70 minutes and how we started to score some Jets tries too."
If anyone can shed some light on this Tigers v Jets theatre, it would be Darren Smith.
Smith played for the Tigers during a long career and has been in administration. He is back as Tigers assistant coach in 2019.
Along the way, he also was assistant coach at Ipswich, working under Kevin Walters in 2007 and 2008.
Smith has seen both sides of the Ipswich Road rivalry and knows that nothing compares to Tigers and Jets on a Sunday afternoon.
"A trip to Ipswich was never too sought after when I was playing. Tough guys like Darren Wolens would make sure of that," Smith said.
"Sunday will be no different, plenty of history between these two clubs.
"Ipswich was very good to me and I learnt a lot from Kevvie Walters in my time there."
THE Under 12 Junior Zone Four Carnival is taking place in Ipswich. There were plenty of players at the Jets v Dolphins game last Sunday for the start of the carnival.
The carnival began in 1963. It involves teams from Ipswich, Gold Coast, Pittsworth, Jandowae and Western Downs, Roma and Charleville.
The carnival has been a breeding ground for Jets like Kurt Capewell, Mitch Carpenter and Jack Martin.
Guest speakers this year for the dinner are Broncos' and Queensland Ipswich super star Ali Brigginshaw and Jet Queensland under-18 representative Jack Martin.
I am MC at the night and will be interviewing Brigginshaw and Martin on stage.
Before that, Martin shared his zone four-carnival memories. "It was my first year playing for Ipswich and I won our best forward. That was pretty special,'' he said.
Former Jet and current Shark Kurt Capewell took great pride in representing Charleville at Zone four.
"I've got a hat at home at Charleville that's full of badges from my brothers and I zone four carnivals,'' Capewell said.
"It was a very big deal to make Zone Four."
WHEN Gavin Cooper was at the Jets in 2008 he had a rat's tail. That probably tells you his age and stage of life. He was all arms and legs, knees and running freely in the centres.
This weekend an older Cooper will run out for the Cowboys against the Roosters and become the 37th player and first Jet to play 300 NRL games.
Cooper has turned in to one of the great hole runners in the NRL and team man. He made his debut for the Cowboys in 2006, won a premiership with North Queensland in 2015 and captained the club to the Grand Final in 2017.
Cooper became the first forward in premiership history last season to score tries in nine consecutive games, breaking the record set by Immortal Frank Burke in 1918.
"I've been part of it and I am very excited about Saturday,'' Cooper said.
"A few things that stand out along the way: The hat-trick against the Eels which ended up being the quickest and the nine tries in a row, which was a record. They are both pretty cool records for me to have.''
STORM player 196 Billy Walters may never play for the Jets but he has royal Ipswich league blood in his body.
Billy's dad Kevin Walters played and coached the Jets and uncles Brett, Kerrod and Andrew Walters were all Jets.
Billy started playing league in Ipswich in Under 7 for Swifts. He won a Colts grand ginal at the North Ipswich Reserve against the Dolphins in 2013 and made his Intrust Super Cup debut against the Jets at the Reserve in 2015.
It is one of the most deserved NRL debuts of all time.
Walters has worked hard with 83 ISC games before Craig Bellamy gave him the nod.
Walters made 29 tackles as the Dragons tested out the new kid. He stood up and did his job.
"It was a pretty special and emotional day having all of my family and close friends there to celebrate a huge day in my life," Billy said.
"To have dad present my jersey was something very special and something that very few people get to have that happen to them."
Jets coach Ben Walker was delighted for Walters. "It's a proud moment for a lot of old guys from the Broncos,'' he said.
"We used to watch Billy, Jack and Jett Walters play for hours at the end of the field at Red Hill."
THE Jets have not lost five games in a row since 2017.
A cold beer with . . .
FOG player 32 Steve Stacey scored in his second game for Queensland in the 1983 Origin series decider. I put on my Queensland number five jumper, some shoulder pads and came in for a scoot from dummy half handing off a beer to Stacey.
It's the 1983 decider at Lang Park and probably one of the most famous halves in Origin - 21-0 at half time to Queensland. What do you remember? Great memories. I had played six games for Queensland pre-Origin for six losses and Origin came around and it was a chance to beat NSW. To win that series was a real highlight for me. I missed game two with a shoulder injury and Terry Butler took my spot. Queensland lost the game in Sydney so I was back for game three and a decider at Lang Park.
Mortimer drops the ball over the right hand side, Meninga picks it up and comes to your side, gives it to Gene Miles, Fullerton-Smith gives you some room and you score in the corner. Some talent to give you the ball? The problem was that being a winger those people like Meninga and Miles could get it done a lot on their own. They did not need to give you the ball too much. It worked out that time on the back of the error and to score for Queensland was great.
State League games against Ipswich, how did they normally unfold? Hard times. Being on the wing, I could hear everything and Ipswich people were not always giving positive advice. We had Des and Rod Morris who are revered in Ipswich so I think Easts got away lightly from Ipswich crowds.
Why do you think the great Ipswich v Easts rivalry just keeps going? It is a few things. Geography, we are not too far away from each other, also Ipswich views Easts like Queensland once viewed the Blues - stealing all our players. All I ever wanted to do was be a Tiger. I lived my whole life in Cooparoo, went to Cavindish Road High and Des Morris came to school to tell me I was playing A Grade at 17. I didn't want to play anywhere else.
How has the winger role changed? It is gone backwards to be honest. Wingers now can touch the corner post. I could not even brush the post. I think I could have had a lot more tries if you take that out of the equation. At Easts we had plays and thought patterns that were designed purely to get myself or Brad Backer in the clear. We would attack from our own quarter. Now I think a winger's primary aim is bring it out of your end for ground and score at the other end out-jumping everyone for a kick.