Years of learning help Ash refocus on exciting Jets future
AS a grand final-winning footballer and active teacher, Chris Ash was looking for the perfect coaching fit.
He has found it at the Ipswich Jets where he has shared in premiership success and built lifelong friendships with some of the city's most knowledgeable mentors.
Recently being appointed Jets Colts coach for the first time provided Ash another way to pass on his skills while expanding his higher level coaching knowledge.
Having overseen the St Peter Claver College rugby league program for the past fours years, Ash was delighted to continue his association with the Jets after retiring as a player.
"It's a good opportunity for me at this time,'' he said.
"I'm really passionate about coaching. I loved coaching the whole time I played.
"One of the reasons that I did play at the level I did for the length of time I did at the Jets was because I had coaching as well to take my mind off things.
"I put a lot of time and effort into that, which helped my footy on the field.''
Ash is still finalising his 2021 Colts squad, having signed 17 players already.
He is keen to lure some former Ipswich talents home and trial other promising youngsters before stepping up 2021 season training with a squad of 32 after Christmas.
The Ipswich-bred footballer hopes his sound knowledge of working extensively with 17 and 18 year olds will give him an advantage in a full season of colts under-21 competition.
The St Peter Claver College first team head coach is also a former Jets Colts player so knows what is involved.
"I want to see what I can do with players competing for spots because there's going to be a lot of good players that might make that initial 17,'' he said.
"That's where my experience comes with the school stuff.
"I'm excited to be working with under 21s as well because that will probably help some of the kids get more ready for Queensland Cup.
"Ultimately my job is to get kids ready to make their Cup debut.''
He sees parallels between teaching and coaching.
"When you see quite a few teachers in coaching ranks all the way through with knowledge of rugby league, it's a help with social skills and having that knowledge,'' he said.
"That is something that will help me, particularly with this age group of young men.
"(At school), I'm working with young men all day, every day and it's nice to have a little bit more of a structure on and off the field that they might need.''
Ash said he would be following the Jets philosophy "if they are not studying or not working, they're not playing''.
Next year's Colts competition is over 16 rounds with some byes. It will be aligned to the Intrust Super Cup being played over 19 rounds to strengthen the pathway from colts into senior rugby league.
Ash is particularly excited about helping the next generation achieve their footballing goals of playing for the Keiron Lander-coached Jets Queensland Cup side.
Ash and Lander are former teammates, further strengthening the club's coaching bond.
Halfback Ash was also part of the 2015 Brisbane Rugby League grand final-winning side coached by Lander's assistant Mark Bishop. "Bisho'' remains a massive influence Ash wants to learn from.
Former clubmates Sam Martin and Danny Coburn, serving water running duties, are other key people Ash is eager to continue working with developing Jets players of the future.
Another person offering valuable mentoring and offering to help out is regional coaching stalwart Todd Riggs. He has strong ties to past Mal Meninga youth squads.
"I wanted to get as many loyal Jets around and work on getting that culture into the younger kids to they are ready to play Q-Cup when they get the opportunity,'' Ash said.
Ash was a Brothers junior until he was 17 before progressing into the Jets Mal Meninga and Colts sides.
He played 45 Intrust Super Cup matches for the Jets after making his debut against PNG in 2015.
He fittingly played his last Jets game against the same team last year, having returned to Brothers to help out in the Ipswich competition.
Ash was hoping to play for Brothers this year before officially retiring. However the club decided not to field a team in this season's Volunteers Cup series which ended last weekend.
Ash's last game of club football was celebrated with a 2019 grand final victory for Brothers.
For the Jets at state league level, Ash scored six tries.
He was man of the match in Ipswich's 2015 BRL grand final victory over Wynnum Manly Redland City. Ash scored in that memorable 26-16 victory over the Seagulls at Langlands Park.
Under the latest format plan released by the Queensland Rugby League, clubs like the Jets will be responsible for under 16 and under 18 player development within their agreed catchment areas.
The Mal Meninga Cup (under 18) competition will feature six rounds within four regional conferences. Semi-finals and finals will be held.
An under 16 competition will align to the under 18 competitions, except that teams will play three matches with no finals. These games will replace the four-day State Junior carnival.