Top coaching milestone built on Jets loyalty
WHEN you are still coaching the same state league team after 200 games over nine years, you must be doing something right.
When that terrific record is shared with your younger brother, it makes the milestone even more satisfying.
That's how Ipswich Jets co-coach Ben Walker feels preparing for today's round four Intrust Super Cup match against Northern Pride at the North Ipswich Reserve.
With brother and joint commander Shane by his side, Ben will coach the Jets in their 200th Intrust Super Cup match, to go with their extra game in the 2015 State Championship in Sydney.
Asked what it meant, Ben answered with trademark professionalism and commitment to what he does best.
"It's a lot of loyalty. It just shows that we are very proud of the club,'' Ben said.
"This is our ninth year as head coaches. We're very proud of the fact that we took over a wooden-spoon team and we're probably the most successful club in the last nine years.''
Over nearly a decade under the Walkers brothers' reign, the Jets have made seven semi-finals and won a state league premiership, overseeing consistent performances Jets fans had never seen previously.
Ben, 42, and Shane, 41, were lured to the Jets after successful playing careers with National Rugby League teams like the Brisbane Broncos and Souths. They also enjoyed overseas experience over many years.
However, it's been at the Jets where the Toowoomba-born siblings have forged another partnership promoting family values, flair and excitement.
"We (Shane and I) understand each other very well,'' Ben said. "And as a result, the team benefit because you've got two guys that aren't fighting each other, two guys that are working in the right direction and for the right reasons.''
That creates a fast and unpredictable style of football the Jets have become renowned for.
Ben is confident the Jets will showcase more of that in today's game after a confidence-boosting second half against last year's grand finalists Easts.
Although the Jets lost 22-20 at the North Ipswich Reserve, it was the Ipswich team's best half of football this season following two below-par performances against the Blackhawks and Burleigh.
"It was very good,'' Ben said.
"We found ourselves the other day and although we didn't win, it was still like we played really well, which we needed.
"We feel like we're now in a position where we know each other's game reasonably well and we feel like this is the week where we'll get ourselves back going again.''
A more active role from former Bulldogs NRL five-eight Josh Cleeland last weekend provided a much-needed attacking spark for the Jets.
"It's important to have that chemistry and that just doesn't happen overnight,'' Walker said.
"Josh got right back into it and he'll only get better every week. As he gets better, the team will.''
Having back-to-back home games should also give the Jets more impetus to produce their first win of the state league season.
"We love playing at home and love putting on a show for the Ipswich people,'' Ben said.
"A lot of Ipswich people are very proud of their team and the style of footy we play is very entertaining.
"We call our style, the Jets style, which is very representative of Ipswich.''
In team news for today's 3pm clash, Jets back Isimeeli Hafoka is out for at least a month after tearing a groin muscle.
Last week's debutant Peter Gubb will start on the wing with Rory Humphreys joining Richard Pandia in the centres.
Intrust Super Cup Rd 4: Saturday (3pm) - Ipswich Jets v Northern Pride at the North Ipswich Reserve.
Ipswich Jets: 1. Michael Purcell, 2. Marmin Barba, 3. Rory Humphreys, 21. Peter Gubb , 5. Richard Pandia, 6. Josh Cleeland, 7. Julian Christian, 8. Tyson Lofipo, 15. Kierran Moseley, 10. Nat Neale (c), 17. Billy McConnachie, 12. Ben White, 13. Ben Shea, 9. Jayden Connors, 16. Huskie Teutau, 19. Mitch Carpenter, one to be added. Co-coaches: Ben Walker and Shane Walker.
Northern Pride: 1. Jack Murphy, 2. Matthew Musumeci, 3. Shawn Bowen, 4. Enari Tuala, 5. Gideon Gela-Mosby, 6. Brayden Torpy, 7. Jordan Biondi-Odo, 8. Aiden Day, 9. Connor Jones, 10. William Bugden, 11. Hugh Sedger, 12. Tom Hancock, 13. Peter Hola, 14. Denzel King, 15. Terrence Casey-Douglas, 16. Matolu Laumea, 17. Maurice Blair. Coach: Ty Williams.