Timing of Burleigh trip of little significance says Walker
NOW or later, the Ipswich Jets were going to have to head down the highway to face their Pizzey Park demons of 2017.
In round 16 of that year - the last time Ipswich travelled to Burleigh's home patch - the Bears heaped misery on the visiting side to the tune of 44 points to nil.
In their one meeting last season, Burleigh romped to a 42-20 victory at North Ipswich Reserve - one of the few occasions the Jets were an obvious second best to their opponents.
As Michael Nunn so states in his Jets Buzz column this week, the Bears have made a habit of piling on points against the Jets in recent meetings.
However Saturday's opponent is coming off a disappointing opening round loss to Norths, in which the Devils were gifted a fast start the Bears were unable to rein back in.
To some, an early season trip to Burleigh might be the best time to catch the Bears unawares. But Shane Walker is not buying into that train of thought.
"It is what it is. You've got to play everyone; whether it's at this stage of the year or later, it's irrelevant,” the coach said.
"You can look for certain reasons for it to be a good time or a bad time, but ultimately you have to turn up each week.”
Walker admitted the Jets did not turn up as their high-flying best in last weekend's loss to the Blackhawks. But he is not too phased about the long-term implications.
"We were a bit rusty early on - there were a few guys who hadn't played footy together for a while,” he said.
"The encouraging thing was that at the 60-minute mark, we were still in the game despite not playing well.
"Structurally we didn't do too much wrong, there were just some defensive mis-reads.
"On a day where it's 38 degrees, if you do a lot of defence you'll invariably leak some points at the end.”
Walker said training this week had been "pretty light” to combat the added fatigue the players endured after 80 minutes under near-40 degree heat at North Ipswich.
Saturday's game is a mid-afternoon start, and hopefully with the added sea breeze at Burleigh temperatures will be more conducive to quality rugby league.
Walker said the Jets "always focus on one or two individuals to do a job on” before going on to list Bears hooker Pat Politoni as a likely candidate for extra homework.
"It probably starts around the ruck with Pat Politoni. We'll do some tape and make sure we're clear on what our assignment is,” Walker said.
Another danger man is Troy Leo.
The pacey winger had three first-half tries last season at North Ipswich Reserve.
Curb the influence of those two men, and the Jets will go a long way to burying their Pizzey Park demons.