Ipswich Jets captain Nat Neale.
Ipswich Jets captain Nat Neale. Rob Williams

Time for Jets to feel at home


THE Ipswich Jets have so far taken on the east, south and north of the Intrust Super Cup competition in 2019.

Now it is time for the far north of the Northern Pride on Saturday at the North Ipswich.

Pride will make their dreaded trek to Ipswich where they have only won once at the North Ipswich Reserve in 10 attempts. It took until 2016 for the Pride to have success in Ipswich after winning at Briggs Road Sporting Complex in 2009.

Pride are coming off a 20-4 loss to the Blackhawks.

The Jets are reeling from their third loss for this season.

The Jets have not started a year with three losses since 2012 when they lost to the Pride, Easts and Redcliffe.

The Jets are keen to break the drought against the Pride and a big part of that will be depend on captain Nat Neale.

Neale spoke about the positives he took out of the Easts game and what excites him about the Pride match.

"I thought the new guys started to settle in and understand our system,'' Neale said.

"Everyone maybe thought that Josh Cleeland would make a seamless transition but it's taken a few games and in the second half against the Tigers he was starting to get that running back.

"I think against the Pride that will improve again."

Cleeland was the Jets players' player for the Tigers game.

A big plus for the Jets was the improved defence. The Jets only missed 30 tackles, which was down from their average of nearly 50 the first two weeks.

If you were making a poster to promote this game, it would have the heavyweight bout of Nat Neale v Will Bugden facing each other.

The Pride's Bugden was a teammate of Neale last year in the Queensland Residents and spoke about coming to Ipswich on Saturday.

"We are just worried about us this time of year,'' Bugden said. "We will be treating the Jets like they've won every game this season. Form and momentum will turn quickly

"The Jets have too many players for me to worry about on the weekend. I have to worry about all of them."

'New Marmin'

PETER Gubb played Intrust Super Cup game 151 on Saturday night, but his first for the Jets.

Gubb's Jets debut against the Tigers made him Jet number 593.

Gubb was a late inclusion on Friday for Rowen Winterfield who suffered a head knock against the Bears and had the week off against the Tigers to recover.

Gubb played 12 minutes and made three runs for a try and two tackles in his short but effective stay on the North Ipswich Reserve field.

"I was told during the week that I might be going on in the middle and I was ready for that but I ended up on the wing,'' Gubb said.

"I have one try from one game, so I am pretty much the new Marmin.

"At Wynnum I scored a try every 2.7 games but now I am at 100%."

Gubb has been included in the Jets side for Saturday's 3pm match.

Double century

THIS weekend will be the 201st game Ben and Shane Walker have coached at the Jets.

That features 200 Intrust Super Cup games and the State Championship game in 2015.

Ben and Shane will be the third coaches to oversee 200 games after Wayne Treleaven (218 games) and Rick Stone (209).

I started at the Jets at the same time as Ben and Shane in November 2008.

To celebrate here's Ben and Shane's top five Jets moments.

Number 5: Round 22, 2010. First win as Intrust Super Cup coach.

Ben and Shane Walker took over suddenly as head coaches for the second last round of the 2010 season against the Mackay Cutters in Mackay. They finished the year the next week at home with the win against the Comets to end a disappointing season that would see the Jets finish in last place.

Number 4: First finals win in 2013 Elimination final against Wynnum.

In the 2013 finals series, the Jets travelled away to the intimidating home of the Wynnum Seagulls and blew the defending premiers out of the competition in week one.

The Jets destroyed the Seagulls with their lateral running and inside balls for their smaller men to find gaps that the Seagulls were not quick enough to close.

The Jets led 20-0 at halftime and the Seagulls could never get it back. After two years of being eliminated in week one of the finals, this win was Ben and Shane's first finals win at the Jets.

Number 3: Round 8, 2014 - great comeback.

The Jets and Pride have played some epic battles in our short history together. Round 8 2014 produced another grand chapter of comebacks when the Ipswich Jets trailed 18-0 after 30 minutes before Wes Conlon, Brendan Marshall and Marmin Barba set about righting the wrongs of the first half. By full-time, the Jets were ahead 24-18.

Number 2: 2015 Elimination final against Tigers.

It is often lost in the memories of the few weeks that would follow this game but the Jets were down 12-6 after 20 minutes. Matty Parcell then scored three tries in 20 minutes in one of the great finals efforts. It marked a change for the Jets after being eliminated in week one in three of the last four finals campaigns.

Number 1: Jets v Blackhawks 2015 Grand Final.

It poured rain on the way to Lang Park on Grand Final day. We left the Broncos training ground and went to Lang Park. I was standing in the tunnel having my fourth nervous Gatorade watching the FOGS Cup when Ben Walker was standing next to me. I must have looked stressed. He asked why and I said won't the rain have an impact on our play?

Would you like to tackle Marmin Barba on wet ground? Marmin produced one of the great grand final performances and wasn't tackled once in 80 minutes as the Jets won their first premiership.

Cooper's stat

MARMIN Barba needs 10 points for 500 points for the Jets.

He would be the third player to achieve the milestone behind Steve West and Wes Conlon.

A cold beer with . . .

STEVE Ricketts was the league writer with the Brisbane Telegraph from 1981-88 and then with The Courier-Mail from 1988-2012. He's currently secretary of the QRL History Committee, as well as being media officer for Men of League's Brisbane Committee. We pulled out some old programs and had a beer.

What makes a good rugby league journalist? Most importantly, you must have a passion for the game, while at the same time maintaining your objectivity. If it is a bad game, call it that way. It is also important to establish a list of contacts, and starting at the grassroots is a wise move, because those people can go on to bigger things, and they will always remember you. However, journalists must not be afraid to be critical of those same contacts, if they are deserving of criticism.

What was the best era of league to cover? The 1980s, simply because the access to the dressing rooms was much greater than it is now, and players were more likely to speak their mind. It also was an era when skill levels were high, and robotic football had not yet taken hold. In addition, we saw the birth of the Broncos.

You covered the 1982 and 1986 Kangaroo tours. What are your memories of those great tours? On both (undefeated) tours, I was proud to be an Australian, because of the expansive style of football played by the Kangaroos. I remember covering the Australia v Wales match in Cardiff in 1982 when Steve Ella scored four tries, and former British Lions rugby union halfback David Brynmor Williams described it as the best rugby team, of either code, that he had played against. In addition, that was Australia's B-side, with only Rod Reddy chosen for the Test against Great Britain the following week. In 1986, Mal Meninga could not make the starting side, such was the depth of talent, with Brett Kenny and Gene Miles preferred in the centres.

Do you have a favourite Ipswich footballer? Without a doubt Allan Langer, although former Goodna boy Noel Kelly comes a close second, given I saw 'Ned' play for Australia in the 1960s, when I was still at school. I was judge for the Australian Team of the Century, in 2008, and 'Ned' was chosen as hooker. I voted for him, but not for Andrew Johns as halfback. My choice was Langer. Brad Thorn describes 'Alf' as the best player he has played with or against, in either rugby code. Say no more.

See stevericketts.com.au for rugby league yarns.