16 April 2010

Home-grown Jets flying high with Goodna well-represented

AFTER copping more criticism than a Nicole Kidman film, the  Ipswich Jets are becoming a nursery for local junior league players.

Queensland Times

AFTER copping more criticism than a Nicole Kidman film, the Ipswich Jets are becoming a nursery for local junior league players.

For the past two years, regional officials and fans have slammed the Jets for not investing in home-grown talent.

However, Jets CEO Brad Wolens said the club was beginning to shed its tag as importer not exporter.

Nine Ipswich raised players have played for the Jets in the Queensland Cup competition this season.

Local juniors Fred Tila (Goodna) and Sam Martin (Norths) have been named as 18th man and Junior Seumanutafa (Goodna) and Junior Sovala (Redbank) are also close to gaining selection in the first grade team.

In the FOGS Cup team, 16 local juniors from a 22 man squad have played for the club this season, while 13 local teenagers have played Colts.

That totals more than 30 local juniors across the three grades.

"Players are now realising that you do not have to go to Brisbane or Sydney at 15 and 16 years old to make it," Wolens said.

"It's great to see so many local players remaining in Ipswich and taking the opportunity to chase their dreams through the pathways that are on our doorstep.

"If you have the skills, right attitude and level of commitment you can make it from Ipswich if you're good enough."

Earlier this year, Queensland Rugby League South East Division chairman Peter Betros slammed the Jets, accusing the club of neglecting local junior talent.

"I am more disappointed with the Ipswich Jets than anyone else,'' Betros said at the time.

"I don't believe that they have supported junior development in Ipswich at all. I'm aware of two or three junior players that have been taken to Sydney by the Roosters.

 "That is a great pity because the Jets should have had their eye on developing that talent, but now it has left the district."

Wolens said the criticism was unwarranted and gaps in junior league systems were being rectified.

While the likes of Todd Riggs (Norths) and Adam Boettcher (Brothers) have been in the Jets side for the past few years, there are a number of young locals shooting through the ranks.

Gun 19-year-old fullback Eric Alefosio debuted in the Queensland Cup two weeks ago after starring in Goodna's Reserve grade grand final last year.

Centenary teenagers Callum Waldrum and James Furminger have also played Queensland Cup.

Colts players like Angus Christensen and Mitchell Range are currently starring in U20s.

"There are still a lot of players playing local footy that have the ability to go to the next level," Wolens said.

"Most of those players are not able to give the high level of commitment required at that level due to work or family responsibilities. They are happy where they are and that is good for the local competition."

Regional players with the Jets in the Queensland Cup this season: Ramon Filipine (Goodna), Callum Waldrum (Centenary/Brothers), James Furminger (Centenary), Eric Alefosio (Redbank, Goodna), Todd Riggs (Norths), Dale Robertson (Norths), Adam Boettcher (Brothers), Tyson Lofipo (Brothers), Marshall Chalk (Fassifern).

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