Jets coach praises his young tyros over approach to fitness

IPSWICH Jets co-coach Ben Walker is thrilled that his players returned for the first training session of the New Year on Monday in top shape.

“They presented the best they have in three years, probably because they all know what we expect,” Walker said.

“It makes our job a bit easier when we don’t have to worry about the conditioning as much.”

The Jets will have a new look in 2014 with prop Rowan Winterfield moving back to the family farm at Blackbutt and star forward Nat Neale signing with South Sydney. Second-rower Jacob Ling and winger Jarrod McInally have both signed with Easts, while club legend Ian Lacey has retired.

Walker said the 2014 squad was the youngest the Jets had fielded in years.

“It is a really young squad, and that is exciting,” Walker said.

“There will be a dozen 21st birthday parties this year and it will be an ideal time for them to have some good times together.

“By no means are they experienced, but they are all talented.”

Welsh international Ollie Olds returned to training in top condition and showed no signs of the serious ankle injury that interrupted his 2013 season. The young halfback will be aiming to make the 2014 season count.

“He’s a competitive little fella and really fits our mould,” Walker said.

“Ollie couldn’t get around at all last year with injury and it wasn’t until the season finished that they realised he had a bone chipped in his ankle.

“He toughed it out for a few games but it just wasn’t right.

“It is good to have him back training well and hopefully he plays well.”

Jets chairman Steve Johnson said the expected return of star centre Donald Malone would be welcomed by the club and young halves Olds and Chris Ash.

“I’m sure they will really enjoy playing rugby league with Donald Malone on their shoulder,” Johnson said.

“He’ll make them look good. He’d make anyone look good.”

Thanks to the QT, Claudia Baxter – for more go to