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Jacks takes the long road back to the Jets to reach his century

Rhys Jacks has taken a longer route than many others to get to 100 Hostplus Cup games... it has been a journey with unsealed roads, tolls plenty of traffic.

However, he has finally hit clear highway and the Ipswich Jets hooker will take part in his centenary game in the competition this weekend against Norths Devils and become the 243nd player to achieve the feat.

This journey to 100 started on April 4, 2010, when Jacks played halfback for the Jets against Burleigh Bears in a 34-14 loss at Pizzey Park.

On Saturday at North Ipswich Reserve, Jacks will run out in another milestone game for the Jets, 12 years and 19 days after his debut.

No Jets player from that first afternoon is still playing, but his captain against the Bears that day, Danny Coburn, will run the water out to Jacks on Saturday.

Brendon Marshall, Tyson Lofipo, Marshall Chalk, Todd Riggs, Smith Samau and Paul Stephenson have all since retired, but Jacks remains.

Along the way in his Cup career, Jacks has played 22 games for the Jets, seven for Brisbane Tigers, 54 for Souths Logan Magpies and 17 for Sunshine Coast Falcons.

Rhys Jacks in action for Sunshine Coast Falcons in 2018. Photo: Ritchie Duce / QRL
Rhys Jacks in action for Sunshine Coast Falcons in 2018. Photo: Ritchie Duce / QRL

While playing Toyota Cup for the Gold Coast Titans, Jacks was called on to make his debut for the Jets, with coach Glenn Lazarus throwing the young half in against the Bears.

“I remember my debut... I loved it at the Jets, I remember Danny Coburn coming over to me and saying he had faith in me and I could play Cup,” Jacks said.

“All I ever wanted to do was play Cup to be honest.

“(To reach) 100 games is an achievement I am very proud of.

“My dad was the skills coach under John Lang at the Tigers when they won in 1991 against Wests. My grandpa played for the Tigers too.

“We knew more about the local footy than the NRL. We lived just near the Tigers junior fields and that community local feel was so important to my family.

“I remember when I was young seeing players play 100 games and thinking how good would that be to achieve that at your club.

“To play 100 games back at the Jets is great, I would have stayed at the Jets in 2010, but the Tigers offered me a train-and-trial with the Storm and I couldn’t pass that up.

“I just wanted to be full-time and that’s why I travelled around, got to play for Sheffield Eagles in England and play for Canada and for the (Toronto) Wolfpack too.

“Travelling to England gave me that chance to not be a teacher for two years and just play football, I am very thankful for that. I played rugby for two years and sevens rugby in Canada too.

“My partner Jess has been great, she loves her footy, so her love and support has given me the chance to play and travel and experience so many things.”

Most weeks, you will find Jets captain Nat Neale packing down next to Jacks.

“Jacks is just a good bloke, he passes the good bloke test,” Neale said.

“He’s got a great footy brain and the thing I like most about him is that he’s done things his way and the way he wanted to do it.

“He is very professional in everything he does and 100 games is a massive milestone.

“I have a bit of crush on him to be honest, good looking man, good footy player and good bloke. He’s a triple threat.”

Jets coach Ben Cross has seen up close the work Jacks does at the Jets and was impressed enough to make him the Jets vice-captain.

“Rhys complements Nat Neale well... Rhys is a talker and great communicator and Nat is more an example of what to do with his actions,” Cross said.

“Jacksie is professional and hard working in everything he does and that’s why he’s a leader.

“It’s a great full circle to make his debut in Ipswich as a young man and then to play his 100th game back in Ipswich, but now he’s a teacher, a dad and a man.”

Back in the early days, sitting next to Jacks at all those local footy games and dreaming big was his brother Ryley Jacks.

Ryley, who is currently playing for Featherstone Rovers in the United Kingdom, played 48 games for the Melbourne Storm and Gold Coast Titans and was glowing in his praise for his brother.

“Anyone that knows Rhys knows how off the field he is the ultimate professional," he said.

"He has an extreme diet and his gyms session will go for two-to-three hours.

“On the field, he has incredible skills, but most importantly he is a great role model and if I was a young player at the club, I would be hanging off his hip.

“To play 100 Cup games is a massive achievement and he thoroughly deserves it.”

It may have taken 12 years and a few detours - including stops in England and games for Canada - but on Saturday night, Jacks will smile and know he got to that 100-game destination he wanted to achieve so much back at that local field.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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