HIGH-PROFILE JET: Former international player Ben Hannant warms up with the Ipswich Jets side he’ll be joining on Saturday at the North Ipswich Reserve.Rob Williams
A PINK polar bear is set to be on the loose at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday.
No, Ipswich Jets fans have nothing to fear. Instead, they have something to get excited about.
Broncos prop Ben Hannant, affectionately known as Polar Bear because of his snowy hair, is set to turn out for Ipswich against the CQ Capras in the Intrust Super Cup.
The day will double as the Jets’ annual Kim Walters Choices Program event that raises funds and provides support for breast and gynaecological cancer sufferers and their families, so the Jets players will be wearing pink jerseys.
Hannant has been dropped by the Broncos despite being in strong form. However, Brisbane’s loss will be the Jets’ gain.
Hannant played a trial match for Ipswich against Burleigh in the pre-season at Redbank Plains and Jets co-coach Shane Walker said his attitude and performance was outstanding.
Walker has spoken to Hannant about turning out for the Jets on Saturday and the Australian, Queensland and Broncos star is willing and eager.
“I was speaking to him earlier today and he can’t wait to get out there and tear into them,” Walker told the QT yesterday.
“Ben played in that trial for us at the start of the year and he couldn’t have been a better professional.
“He had a great attitude.
“They only wanted him to play 40 minutes and we played him straight through. We were playing in quarters and after the first quarter we stuck him straight back out because he wanted to rip and tear.
“I couldn’t have been more impressed with the way he applied himself.
“When he played for us he was charging into them and was able to get a few offloads away and link up in broken field play.
“We are in good form and there is a great feeling within the club, so he is coming to a good environment.
“From what we saw in the trial, he will love playing for the Jets.”
The last time an Australian and Origin player turned out for Ipswich was former Titans prop Brad Meyers back in 2011.
Walker said the players were all looking forward to playing with Hannant and learning from him.
“One of the reasons we love watching him play for the Broncos, Queensland and the Broncos is because he competes really hard,” Walker said.
“There has been many a game where he will chase a guy the length of the field. Whether he gets them or not is irrelevant, but it is just those little things that we are all about at the Jets.
“This year has been amazing in the Queensland Cup.
“Last week we played against Josh Papalii. It is terrific for all the guys in our squad to have Ben back this week.”
While Hannant will be aiming to return to the NRL as soon as possible, he may yet also have time to impress Queensland coach Mal Meninga and force his way back into a Maroons jumper.
“Mal was impressed with the fact that Papalii came back to Queensland Cup, so he might be equally impressed with Ben,” Walker said.
“We might be harking back to the days where blokes get picked out of Reserve grade for Origin.”
Walker said Hannant was also a hit with the fans at Redbank Plains on his previous appearance.
“He stayed around for as long as people were happy to stand there and sign autographs,” Walker said.
“This is a rare opportunity for people to come down to North Ipswich Reserve and watch a recent international and Origin legend play for the Jets, and he is still at the peak of his powers.
“There will be a pink polar bear on the loose.”
The Jets will present a $3250 cheque to the Kim Walters Choices Program at half-time. The club will be raising extra funds on the day.
- Ben Hannant. Age: 29
- NRL games (from 2005): 179
- Qld matches (2008-12): 12
- Australia Tests (2009-12): 6