Striking the right balance between strength and endurance will be the key for Ipswich Jets forward Zac Hetherington after he was named to make his Intrust Super Cup debut for the club in Round 1 this weekend.
After taking a break from football last year and focusing on trying to “put on a bit of size”, the versatile Hetherington was ready and willing to play in any position, but has been named by coach Keiron Lander to play in the second row for Saturday’s clash again Townsville.
However, as the Jets do play in their distinct style when ball movement is key, his skills will allow him to slot into a number of roles on the field.
“I believe I can cover a few spots for the team... I am just there if one of the boys goes down, I feel I am a good utility who can fill in anywhere,” Hetherington said.
“I was at Bulldogs playing hooker, and I came down there and have played a bit of centre, second row, so I can cover a few positions.
“It doesn’t bother me, I told Keiron he can throw me in anywhere and I will try and do the job as best I can.
“Second row here (at the Jets), you are playing like an inside centre pretty much, it’s all about finding lazy defenders and using that footwork and trying to create that momentum.
“You have got to be fit, that’s the main thing, there is always a lot of running and that sort of stuff, but it works and I love the game play of the Jets … it took me a bit to get used to, but now I am running around and I am enjoying it.”
While it took him a little while to find his way to the club, for Hetherington, being able to play with the Jets holds extra special meaning, with his father, former State of Origin player and former coach of the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons Jason Hetherington, being a Jets old boy.
“It’s good to come here, my old man used to play here... it’s good to be coached under Keiron, he’s won a premiership there with them, so he knows what it takes to win another one,” Hetherington – who loves a bit of country including Johnny Cash and Alan Jackson – said.
“I am really enjoying it here, so I am keen for the season.
“I have been all around the place, but mainly started in Rockhampton, Brothers, there in Rockhampton, and bit of school footy for The Cathedral College and then it all pretty much took off from there.
“I went to Sydney and played at the Bulldogs for a bit and finished up there and now I am here.”
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This season, the Hetherington family would have circled Round 9 in the draw, with Hetherington in line to go up against his twin brother Kobe when the Jets face Souths Logan Magpies.
But for now, Hetherington’s focus is on making sure he is ready to fill whatever role his team needs and working with his coach to improve.
“I have learnt a lot off him I believe, he’s a great defensive coach,” Hetherington said of Lander.
“From what I have heard, he was a real good defensive player, so he brings that to the team and works hard, loves working hard on his defence and I believe I have learnt from him and how he likes to tackle; I am just keen to have a good season under Keiron.
“(My goals this year are) just to get through the season successful and play in each week and just try and be consistent and (into) the years to come.”
The Ipswich Jets will host Townsville Blackhawks at North Ipswich Reserve tomorrow to open their 2021 Cup season.
Match: Jets v Blackhawks
Round 1 -
Venue: North Ipswich Reserve, Ipswich