tmedia
Skip to main content
Main content
Homepage

Meet the Jets - the entertainers

By Tony Webeck

ISC17_News_TonyWebeck_ROUND11

It's no surprise that Shane Walker loves seeing the Hunters break free of structure and play on instinct.

As one of the co-coaches of the Jets that has implemented a unique playing style of their very own, Shane and Ben Walker prefer to look at the game of rugby league through a different lens.

When so many coaches in the modern game seem to be instituting largely the same game-plan with some slight variations, the Walker boys sent the game into a tailspin two years ago when their philosophy that time spent with the ball in hand was indeed the stat that was most important to winning.

And it worked.

They upset the Blackhawks to win the Intrust Super Cup and then stunned the Knights to claim the NRL State Championship – so the thought of the Jets and Hunters facing off this Saturday at North Ipswich Reserve promises one of the most entertaining clashes of the season.

Although if Walker has his way, the Hunters will supress their instincts and simply stick to the structures that coach Michael Marum has implemented to such great effect.

"PNG play a very similar style to everyone else in the comp, but when they get an offload and their natural instincts take over, they become very unpredictable and dangerous," Walker said.

“They can certainly play 35 minutes of structured footy with their block plays and set plays and they can get one offload and … (it) spreads like wildfire through the whole team.

"Not that we want it to happen against us, but we enjoy it as a spectator when it does."

Such was their intent to do something different from the norm, the Walkers are now having an influence on NRL teams with the Bulldogs this season adopting the practice of short restarts, particularly from drop-outs.

"One of the many reasons that we choose not to play that way is because why do the same everyone else is doing?" Walker said of he and Ben's innovative approach.

"The Fiji Sevens team that won the gold medal at the Olympics, they had a real focus of playing like Fiji.

"I read that they had gone to more of a structured way of playing and after a period of time they realised that wasn't them and they had to in fact play the way that they like to play and that's what led them to a gold medal.

"A lot of the emerging nations such as Samoa, Tonga, PNG and Fiji in addition to being physically strong, their ball skills and instinct is what sets them apart and it would be a shame if that was ever coached out of them."

There's no chance of that happening at North Ipswich Reserve this week with the Pandia boys, Richard and Sebastian lining up against their countrymen and the Jets celebrating Harmony Day with three great games of footy.

And if the main game becomes a battle of ball-skills it will be well and truly a game to savour.

Did you know?

Given their lofty position on the ladder, Sunshine Coast are strong favourites to account for Mackay at home this week, but the history between these two sides is incredibly lopsided the way of the Cutters. Mackay boast an incredible 12 wins on the trot against the Falcons, stretching back to 2010 when the Sunny Coast were defending premiers. Let's see if history repeats.

*Statistics provided by Brad Tallon

A former editor of Big League, Tony Webeck is the Chief Queensland Correspondent for NRL.com.