(Thanx to the QT) IF the Ipswich Jets thought their trial against a second-string Sunshine Coast side on Saturday would be easy, they should have known better.
With the Sea Eagles’ top squad playing the New Zealand Warriors, Ipswich coaches Ben and Shane Walker decided to test a Jets team also missing more than half its Queensland Cup line-up.
Just 20 minutes into the trial at Nambour’s Crusher Park, they took off a forward and made the Jets play the rest of the game with 12 players on the paddock.
The Jets won the game 28-10.
“They did a really good job,” Shane Walker said of his charges.
“The guys from the Sunny Coast stood up, which was good.
“We got to go through our plays and iron out a few things we can work further on.
“Our defence and line-speed was good.”
With a man down, the players got a good workout fitness-wise while the Walkers got to see how they responded under pressure.
“Obviously you’ve got to work harder because you’re a man short,” Shane said.
“It probably showed in the two tries they did score, when they went around us.”
Almost as pleasing for the coaches was the way the FOGS Cup squad performed in the earlier game.
Shane nominated James Stephensen, Tuuta Manu, Mervyn Walker and Matthew Ramsamy as players who caught the eye.
“Tuuta ripped in on the weekend,” Shane said.
“He was near impossible to pull down.”
The US trio also impressed on debut.
“They were great,” Shane said.
“Michael Garvey scored a try.
“Jayson Rego had some good carries.
“Josh Rice was really strong in defence and forced some errors.
“Just with some beautiful front-on tackles and he made some nice runs.
“They definitely put their hands up.”
The two trials have convinced the Walkers of the quality in Ipswich’s depth this season.
“We’re starting to really see the benefits now of all the guys training together,” Shane said.
“Guys who were probably just FOGS Cup players last year are now genuine (Queensland) Cup players.
“Everyone who played in the (top grade) trial on the weekend is now a genuine Cup player.
“In the FOGS game, quite a few showed they could play Cup also. It’s not just a team of 17 we’ve got now.
“We’ve probably got 40-odd in contention for Cup places.”
Ipswich also won under-16, under-18 and colts trials against Sunshine Coast.