HE Ipswich Jets are without the services of form props Billy McConnachie (suspended) and Rod Griffin (injured) for tomorrow’s Queensland Cup clash with Redcliffe.
But they have a more than handy replacement in Joe Ofahengaue.
The big Collingwood Park product makes his debut for the Jets, having spent the past month in the Brisbane Broncos under 20s.
That followed his surprise first grade debut and three NRL games in the top grade.
It has been a rapid rise for the 19-year-old, who is looking forward to his return to Ipswich.
He last played for Ipswich at under 16 level, in the Cyril Connell Cup.
“I’m pretty excited actually,” Ofahengaue said.
Ofahengaue is not exactly sure why he has been moved from the Broncos 20s to the Jets.
But he suspects it is part of the plan the Broncos have to best prepare him for a return to the NRL.
“To play against men only helps my development,” he said.
“It’s part of the development Wayne (Bennett) wants.
“And I’m keen to play some footy in the Q Cup.”
Ofahengaue has had one training session to get used to the Jets unique style of footy.
But he said it reminds him of playing for junior Ipswich rep sides.
“I trained with them on Thursday and it was pretty fun,” Ofahengaue said.
“The game plan is more like touch footy.
“I have to adapt.
“It’s like being 15-years old running sideways.”
Ofahengaue admits his rise to NRL ranks was fast and unexpected.
But he knows what is required now and is confident he’ll be back soon.
“I was expecting it to come more towards the end of the year or next year,” he said.
“But the opportunity came, which was exciting and made my family proud.
“I was proud of myself.
“Now I’ve got to concentrate on moving forward.
“I know how close I am to getting a spot back in the (Broncos) 17.
“It’s something I didn’t really know before (I debuted) – how close I am to getting another run.”
Skipper inspires in 100th
JOE Ofahengaue’s first game for the Ipswich Jets coincides with captain Keiron Lander’s 100th for the Ipswich Jets.
But the Jets leader isn’t treating this one any differently.
He is much more concerned with ensuring the Jets take home the points this weekend, after a disappointing loss last weekend to Burleigh.
“It’s pretty simple,” Lander said.
“Ball control. If we fix that we put ourselves in a position to win.”
The skipper has few fears about Ofahengaue’s ability to fit into the Jets’ game plan.
“Billy (McConachie) will be sorely missed but Joe will bring something different. He’s mixed into the culture of the club quickly. He looked like he’d been part of the team a long time.”
Ipswich Jets: 1 Carlin Anderson, 2 Marmin Barba, 3 Chris Walker, 4 Nemani Valekapa, 5 Brandon McGrady, 6 Josh Cleeland, 7 Dane Phillips, 8 Josh Seage, 9 Matt Parcell, 10 Gerico Cecil, 11 Sam Martin, 12 Kurt Capewell, 13 Keiron Lander (c), 14 Troy O’Sullivan, 15 Kurtis Lingwoodock, 16 Joe Ofahengaue, 17 Liam Capewell.
- Ipswich Jets v Redcliffe Dolphins
- Queensland Cup: 2pm tommorrow at Dolphin Oval
- BRL: Jets v Carina, 7pm tonight at North Ipswich Reserve
- Jets Colts: Bye