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Jets join forces with RLI to develop local pathway

The relationship between the Ipswich Jets and Rugby League Ipswich local competition has been strengthened this season, with the implementation of a new developmental system in 2019.

Former NRL Development Officer Steve Brown has taken over the role of Ipswich Jets Development Manager with a mandate to further strengthen the bond between the local competition, the junior pathways and the Intrust Super Cup.

Brown started in his new role in March and has since worked hand-in-hand with both the Jets and Rugby League Ipswich as they look to integrate and develop players between the two organisations.

“The main goal at the moment is to get that strong and positive relationship with the local league and the local clubs,” Brown said.

“It’s about the integration of players back to the local competion and communicating all of that to the local league and local clubs.”

Brown maintains a detailed report of all the senior players on the Ipswich Jets roster, designating their current playing status (fit, injured, suspended, etc) and which local club they are ported to when they are not on Intrust Super Cup duties.

This report is updated consistently and is shared with the local league for transparency.

So far, this has resulted in positive results for all stakeholders.

The Jets currently have roughly nine fringe players ported to local Ipswich clubs, while a handful of other players are affiliated with other regions including Toowoomba and Logan.

While the partnership is beneficial at the administrative level, importantly, it is also beneficial for the players in the local competition as the stronger link allows a greater pathway for local players to develop in the RLI competition as they push for promotion to the Intrust Super Cup.

Blake Lenehan (left) with Shar Walden (right) and Chris Ash (centre)
Blake Lenehan (left) with Shar Walden (right) and Chris Ash (centre)

Brown pointed to the likes of Blake Lenehan, Shar Walden and Jack Martin as examples of success stories that have already resulted from the development program.

All three have made their debut for the Jets this season, with Lenehan making six appearances, Walden making four appearances and young-gun Martin turning out twice.

“They’re local juniors,” Brown said. “Blake came through West End and Shar came through the Norths system, so it’s great to see those local boys up playing (Intrust Super) Cup.

“Jack Martin is another one who made his debut a few weeks ago. He’s only, I think, 18 and a local kid as well through Norths.

“So that’s what I’m looking at as a success story at the moment, is those three young kids pushing up and playing Cup.”

Martin was this year selected in the Queensland Under 18 team as well (pictured above during an opposed session with the Queensland Maroons).