It’s an opportunity that for some players comes once in a lifetime, and two young guns from the Ipswich Jets are off to see what life is like training with an NRL club.
As part of a growing relationship with the club, Tyler Coburn and Blake Lenehan have been selected by Jets coach Keiron Lander to head down to New South Wales and spend four weeks embedded in pre-season training with the Newcastle Knights.
They will train fulltime while living and breathing their footy right up until Christmas, before heading back to Ipswich to prepare for what is set to be a blockbuster, long-awaited season in 2021.
Jets coach Lander said he believed the players would come back from the experience with skills that will be invaluable.
“Blake Lenehan has played 18 games for the Jets, and is at that age now where he’s maturing into a good player, but still has lots to learn," Lander said.
"I’ve been part of that (NRL) system and I know what it’s like, so he will get a lot out of it.
“As for Tyler, despite playing only one game for us in 2020 before the shutdown, he’s a player who’s learned his trade from the best, he always gives 100 per cent and will get a lot out of the intensity of full time training with the Knights.
“It’s a great relationship with have with Newcastle, and I hope that this is something that we can do every year with Newcastle, it’s invaluable to the players, the club and the future.”
The difference between NRL clubs and clubs like the Jets all comes down to one thing, and that’s part-time as opposed to full-time.
“When you’re at an NRL club, that’s your job, fulltime, day-in, day-out, whereas at the Jets our players can spend the day studying, concreting, bricklaying, working, then grab their kit before heading off to the gym, and training," Lander said.
“It makes an enormous difference to a player being in that fulltime environment, and I know what it’s like, so I’m excited to see Tyler and Blake get the benefit of month in the system.
“This is all part of their sporting journey, and adds to their pathway as a player.”
Coburn was excited to get this opportunity, and while it would be hard to be away from family so close to Christmas, it all added to the fact that he was keen to get back onto the footy field after COVID halted the entire 2020 season.
“I’m still living at home, and I’m studying, so this will be a great chance to spend a whole month focusing on my training, my footy and learning new skills,” Coburn said.
“When you’re studying, working and training you don’t get much of a break this time of year, and although I’ve never been in that NRL intense environment, I’m really excited to get the fitness benefits out of it.
“I’m up for the challenge, and I can’t tell you how much I’m craving to get back on the field after the year we’ve had, and 2021 is going to be an exciting year for everyone at the club, from the footy team, to the coaches, the staff and most of all, the fans.”