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Local links between an A grade competition and Hostplus Cup team are could scarcely be more profound than they are in Ipswich.

Every club has former Ipswich Jets stars or ex-A grade players embedded giving back to the league, which this year has the statewide outfit sponsoring the competition.

Jets legend Scott Ireland has what he termed an ‘unofficial support role’ at Fassifern Bombers in 2023 and said it was “fantastic” to see players making the transition into boosting community rugby league.

“There’s definitely a cohort of younger player-coaches now that are coming through in the A grade comp, which is good to see," Ireland said.

"You’ve got Brendon Marshall (Norths) who is a Jets legend, Luke Pollock (Fassifern) and Jake O’Doherty (Swifts) both played for the Jets and had good careers, you’ve got Kirisome Auva’a (Redbank Plains) as well who played for the Jets last year and Josh Leisemann has been a player in the Diggers last few years is coaching full time for Brothers, so there’s definitely a dynamic there and the link is pretty strong."


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So what keeps bringing players back?

“To be honest with you, there’s no footy like Ipswich footy I think. It’s a very passionate, parochial area and there’s definitely a style of footy synonymous with Ipswich,” Ireland said.

“We like to attack, we play physical footy and the natural progression is to try to get guys when they’re finishing their Cup career, so it’s fantastic to see the transition back. I’d like to see it even more.”

He said the official Jets alignment to A grade was a good step forward to solidify the pathway.

Norths Tigers coach Brendon Marshall, who had more than 150 games for the Jets, said he hoped to unearth more talents passing and helping them towards Hostplus Cup level based on his experience.

“It’s always been about competing. That’s one of the main things we had when I was at the Jets with Ben and Shane (Walker), competing for everything on and off the ball, training and the way you do it. If you weren’t engaging yourself to your full potential, the boys really got that out of you,” Marshall said.

“So what I’m doing is taking baby steps and making sure everyone is positive and comfortable with what they’re doing.”

The Ipswich Jets A Grade Cup kicks off on Saturday with Redbank Plains v Norths Tigers at 3.30pm, followed by Swifts Bluebirds v Fassifern Bombers at 5pm, both at North Ipswich Reserve.

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