WHEN I arrived in Ipswich in 2015 to right the good ship QT as the new editor, I was pleased to discover the city hosted an entertaining rugby league team in the Ipswich Jets.
Coaches Ben and Shane Walker had introduced an innovative attacking style and it worked brilliantly with the team going through to claim the premiership and the national club challenge.
Unfortunately, since that day the Jets have spluttered ending with a disastrous 2023 season where they couldn’t win one game.
Former Storm and NSW prop, Ben Cross, is the coach and while it would be easy to point the finger towards him for the year to forget it would be grossly unfair.
This year the Jets were the only team in the league that didn’t have talented players dropping back from an NRL team.
Their pathways agreement signed with Easts only offered trial opportunities and coaching for young players looking to play for the Roosters in the NRL.
This meant Cross was sending a team of young rookies out each week against sides stacked with NRL players coming back from injury or looking to regain form so they could play first grade again.
Jets fans will be glad to hear that the Jets recognised the problem and have now signed an agreement with the Gold Coast Titans.
It will see players from the Gold Coast line-up in the Hostplus Cup with the Jets each week.
Titans’ chairman Dennis Watt said the Ipswich region was one of Queensland’s true rugby league nurseries.
“It’s important for us to have feeder clubs to allow those not in NRL’s top 17 the opportunity to still be playing regularly,” he said.
Ipswich Jets CEO Richard Hughes said the inclusion of Titans-contracted players to bolster the current squad of young and upcoming talent was the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle for us to embark on a strong finals campaign in 2024.
A competitive Jets will hopefully bring back the fans to North Ipswich Reserve, which unfortunately is still waiting on council funds for its much needed rebuild.
As veteran coach Tim Sheens once said to me “you can’t win games without the cattle.”
This year Cross will have the talent and I’m backing him to get the Jets flying again.