Tricky trials time to show what pre-season work was done
ON Saturday night, the Ipswich Jets will be off to the Sunshine Coast to try to wound the Falcons in their first trial game of 2021.
Trials are a tricky beast to tame. You do not want injuries but you want players to start to blow out the cobwebs and have a run.
The Jets will play the Sunshine Coast in all four grades with all four Jets coaches having things they will be looking for when they are driving home on Saturday night.
Jets Intrust Super Cup coach Keiron Lander pondered his goals for Saturday.
"It's our first hitout for the season and it's been 12 months so getting a game on is the first good thing," Lander said.
"Next I will just be focusing on our defence. Are we working hard, is our defence working off the ball?
"We want to be a hard working team, so I want to see that."
Colts coach Chris Ash will be steering the Jets for the first time in 2021 and had similar KPI to Lander.
"Effort. You know attack is going to be a bit stifled and clunky but effort can be there, are they working hard and doing the things we have worked on since November?
"Defence is important in Colts, attack is natural for them but working hard in defence has to be taught and learned."
Mal Meninga competition coach Michael Armstrong has his third trial against the Falcons so has a clearer picture of where the young Jets are heading.
"Easts last week was really good for us,'' Armstrong said.
"Our guys hadn't played a team like that before and they really provided some clarity for us.
"This week is about playing some smart football. Due to inexperience at this level you can sometimes not be prepared to play slow but think fast and that's what we have to be doing on Saturday."
The youngest Jets, the Cyril Connell players, will be getting ready for their round one game against the Tweed on March 6.
Jet coach Jye Tuaiamau-Gadsdon will be guiding them through this trial period.
"There was some real positives against the Tigers last week,'' Tuaiamau-Gadsdon said.
"We can build on that again this week against the Sunshine Coast.
"I want to see a real commitment to those 'heart' things we try and coach in football.
"Turning up when you're tired, working really hard.
"We have had some impressive players that have shown some great qualities.
"Our fullback Matua Brown and our 6, Orlando Metuariki have been notable and our injured half Tyler Peckham-Harris will be back.
"Jack Laing has been really solid for us too.
"Lots to be really excited about if you're watching the Jets this season."
Jack great promo for Ipswich footy
THERE is an advertisement for Ipswich walking around the Shire at Cronulla. Ipswich Jet Jack Martin is the perfect ad for Rugby League Ipswich having played Ipswich schoolboy Hornets, Diggers, Cyril Connell, Mal Meninga, Colts and then Intrust Super Cup for the Jets in 2019.
Martin went through the whole lot then headed off to the Sharks on a development deal for 2021.
"I came down to the Cronulla Sharks in November ready for pre-season," Martin said excitedly.
"I love it, this is home now for the next two years.
"Its great training all day, we are normally on the field by 8am and home at 2pm but doing gym full-time I can feel myself getting stronger.
"I have put on about three kilos since I started."
Martin is learning off some of the best at the Sharks and is soaking up any information he can from his front row mates.
"Aaron Woods has been great for me and Aiden Tolman, both those guys have played over 200 NRL games each and they help you out whenever they can."
Martin could still be playing for the Jets in 2021. The Sharks feeder is the Newtown Jets in the Canterbury Cup.
"I am on a development deal so I can't play NRL until June 30, so the dream is train really hard, get picked for Newtown and play and then be playing well enough after June 30 to play NRL,'' Martin said.
Martin played his first game for the Sharks last week against the Dragons in an emerging player trial game.
The trial game is restricted to players who have played less than 12 NRL games.
"I haven't played in 12 months so it will be good to get a run against the Dragons,'' he said.
There is another Ipswich product at the Sharks - former Ipswich State High student and Springfield Panther Ronaldo Mulitalo is adding to his 24 NRL games for the Sharks but looking after his new Ipswich buddy.
"Ronaldo is a character, he's great to have around, and both coming from Ipswich has been great down here,'' Martin said.
"I will just keep working hard and loving it in Cronulla."
Struddy support helps Jets and region
IF you were a kid in Ipswich, there was nothing better than a trip to Struddys for new boots or bat.
In 2021, Struddys are continuing their Ipswich tradition by teaming up with the Ipswich Jets.
Who would have thought that a decision by Senator McAuliffe in 1972 would pay off for the Ipswich Jets in 2021?
When McAuliffe told Ross Strudwick he could play for any club in Queensland, Strudwick chose Valleys and has been in Queensland ever since.
Strudwick would play eight games for Queensland and one Test match for Australia but it is the royal blue of Valleys where he would make his name in Queensland.
Strudwick first plied his halfback trade for Valleys in their all-conquering team of the 1970's winning premierships in 1973, 1974 and 1979. He then coached Brothers to the 1986 grand final and 1987 Premiership.
"We have such a proud Ipswich tradition. Ipswich was our second ever store and it was managed by Ipswich's best Hugh O'Doherty,'' Strudwick said.
"Hugh was my manager in Ipswich and he did such a great job, what Ipswich kid wouldn't come buy boots off Hugh?"
Strudwick has always been around the area and happy to help the region.
"I came out to Gatton to help Hughie when he was coaching out there and I coached against the Jets for Brothers so I have always been around the Ipswich area.
"We wanted to get into the Intrust Super Cup and Ipswich was naturally where we wanted to start.
"We do a lot of suppling for schools and clubs but the Jets were where we wanted to be and in the Intrust Super Cup.
"We are confident that we can work with the Jets for a long time.
Strudwick was confident he could supply the Jets with everything they need in 2021. Even pale skinned and red headed staff.
"I will make sure you have a bucket hat, I promise," Strudwick laughed.
"You will have to bring your own sunscreen. I can't help you there."
Wes kicking on, watch out
BALL boys at Jets games had better get ready for some chat in 2021 because Wes Conlon is back at the Jets.
It was a humorous sight at Jets games to watch Conlon walk back to his mark for kicks at goal laughing and asking the ball boy if he was backing him in or out.
Conlon last played for the Jets in 2018, ending on 81 games. The prolific scorer contributed 34 tries and 183 goals and one field goal for 503 points.
Conlon could achieve the double this season of 100 games for the Jets and most points if he can knock off 96 points.
"I knew I was close to 100 games and if I can accomplish that goal I'd leave the game one happy player," Conlon said.
"To be in the 100 club with all the past great players that have come through this deadly club and to be close to the most points of all time at the club also that would be a massive accomplishment but that isn't the reason I'm back.
"Through this COVID saga with everything shut down I've had a lot of time to think and what I've come up with was that I wasn't giving my all and wasn't challenging myself completely.
"I thought I can come back and challenge myself in Intrust Super Cup again.
"I made my decision I knew I had to work and climb this massive mountain once more, this time around I feel like I'm not doing it for anyone else but myself.
"I've got that me vs me mentality.
"In addition, I feel like at this level with all the young lads I can help a lot more to advance their game and to give them an insight on how I see and do things to help their game on and off the field."
Since Conlon last played for the Jets in 2018, there has been a coaching change with Keiron Lander taking over from the Walker Brothers.
Conlon has not noticed any seismic change at Jets.
"Keiron and I get along - he is like an older uncle," Conlon said.
"He is straight upfront with you and we've had some chats on my role this year and I have said if he needs me round one or whenever through the year I'll be ready to roll.
"With the lads at the club I see a lot of new faces but the culture is just the same and it feels like I've never left.
"Few of the new lads have asked me a few questions here and there to help their game. That's another reason why I came back is to give back to the next generation of Jets, that's what was done for me.
"There is some talent here and with the mix of youth and a few older experienced guys we could give the comp a good shake up this year.''
One to watch in 2021, Conlon was sure that Jets' hooker Kierran Mosley was going to bring plenty of joy this season when he adds to his 42 games for the Jets.
"One person comes to mind this year is Kierran Mosley. He just has this look in his eyes and you can tell he is serious. I am looking forward to seeing him rip in.''
I am sure the ball boys at the Reserve will hear all about it this season.
NAT Neale needs four games to reach 155 Intrust Super Cup games going past Brendon Marshall and to have achieved the third most games for the Jets.