Ipswich co-coach Ben Walker says Jets will not be grounded as they chase Queensland Cup history

HIS premiership-winning squad has been ripped apart, but Ipswich co-coach Ben Walker is adamant the Jets will not be grounded as they chase a piece of Queensland Cup history. Far from despondent over the loss of six stars — Rod Griffin (Wests Tigers), Matt Parcell (Manly), Josh Cleeland, Kurt Capewell (Cronulla), Chris Walker and Keiron Lander (retired) — from the side that delivered Ipswich’s maiden title in 2015, Walker said the bar remained as high as ever entering his sixth season as co-coach with brother Shane. Fearlessness in attack has been a Jets trademark under the Walker boys, and it is a trait that will continue as they fight to become just the third side to win back-to-back Cup crowns. “We go in expecting to win,” the former Broncos, Manly and Souths half said. “(Dealing with the departures) hasn’t been difficult at all. We’ll make subtle changes (with our game plan) due to the different personnel we have there but we’ll stick predominantly to the same structures as last year. “But we’re not concerned at all. We’ve got a group of younger guys who have been coming through our grades and have been playing well. We’ve also signed some other kids that have come unheralded but have done some good things for us in pre-season.” That pre-season included a 58-0 thrashing from Manly in the final trial on February 21, but Walker pointed to the Jets’ poor trial record — they have won two in five years — as evidence there was no need to panic. He said the signings of forwards David Fa’alogo and Nat Neale would ensure his side was again a force to be reckoned with. Premiership players Carlin Anderson and Billy McConnachie have also left the club after signing with the Broncos, but are likely to line up for the Jets when not required for NRL duty. Ipswich opens its title defence against Norths at North Ipswich Reserve at 3.15pm on Saturday. This weekend’s opening round will promote organ and tissue donation as part of the Queensland Rugby League’s partnership with Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation and the James Ackerman Family Trust Fund. Players will wear Zaidee’s Rainbow Shoelaces, while referees will don special socks.