Courtesy of Ben Wilmott at the QT
THEY might be with a different Jets outfit these days but Josh Cleeland and Kurt Capewell continue to impress wherever they go.
Last year the rugby league duo helped guide the Ipswich Jets to a historic season of silverware including the Intrust Super Cup premiership.
Having impressed selectors, Capewell and Cleeland took up the chance to join the New South Wales Intrust Super Premiership with the Newtown Jets.
Just like Ipswich’s own ties to the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL, Newtown has strong links with the Cronulla Sharks.
Having watched the young pair perform well in their first season down south, Newtown coach Greg Matterson said he had no doubts the Ipswich pair could made it in the NRL if given the chance.
“They are both really good young blokes with a good chance at cracking it in the NRL,” Matterson said.
“Kurt and Josh are both proper country kids with good personalities and I couldn’t speak higher of their attitude towards the game and training.
“They are both just on that cusp with a little way to go but they have been a pleasure to coach and have in our club.”
Unfortunately the Sharks success on the field, and ability to avoid injury, has left little opportunity for the two Queenslanders to crack the top grade.
Capewell made his debut this year against the Penrith Panthers in round 18, but has otherwise lent his impressive form to the fifth-placed Jets.
On the weekend Capewell showed his versatility by producing a man-of-the-match performance when shifted from the second row to the centres.
The 23-year-old went on to make 197 metres, three line-breaks and a try assist in his first full match in the centres.
“We needed someone to stand up on the weekend and Kurt was our best player on field,” Matterson said.
“He certainly likes a bit of space on the edge and I knew he could handle playing in the centres. Sometimes you have to play really direct and just take your medicine which is something Kurt definitely has.
“Josh has a bit more of a way to go but I think at this rate Ipswich might just take over the NRL.”
Crossing for the Jets opening try before adding three conversions to edge out Newcastle 22-19, Capewell told NSW media he was confident Newtown could push for a top four finish.
“Yeah I’m feeling confident I think we’ve got a lot of improvement in us, we sort of got shuffled around a bit with the Origin period,” Capewell said.
“Going into the finals, if we put a fairly good team on the park and we keep our sense and go to plan we should go all right.”
Despite an injury-free run for the Cronulla Sharks locking him out of a regular NRL appearance, Capewell said showing his versatility in the centres could only help make his case.
“I think if I keep in good form, no matter where I’m playing, you sort of make your own luck when it comes to playing first grade,” Capewell said.
“As long as I play good every week no matter where it is that I play, I’m happy.”
Newtown is not the only rugby league club to have raided the Ipswich stocks after their impressive seaosn in 2015.
Rod Griffin is waiting in the wings for the Wests Tigers, while Billy McConnachie and Carlin Anderson continue to train with the Brisbane Broncos.
While all five Jets players patiently wait for their chance in the top grade, injuries suffered by the Manly Sea Eagles have given Matt Parcell his chance to shine in the NRL. The Ipswich born hooker has played 12 games for Manly this year already.