ON THE surface it appears the Ipswich Jets Colts have had a season most would rather forget.
But in reality it has been a season at least seven players from this year’s crop of Colts will never forget.
The Jets Colts, through injury and suspension, have been forced to dig deep to continue to field a side.
It has meant earlier than expected opportunities for what was supposed to be next year’s crop of under 20 talent.
The scoreboards have not always made for pretty reading for the Jets, who sit eighth in the 10 team competition heading into the final round clash with Souths Logan at North Ipswich today.
But the experience gained by the youngsters will serve them well next year.
A J Elder, Kade McGarrigal, Daniel Ioane, Liam Pakau, Jesse Matafeo, Corey Kurnoth and Blake Lenehan are all players who began the season with ambitions to do the Jets proud in the under 18 Mal Meninga Cup.
Maybe next year or the year after they would have envisaged the opportunity to mix with the best under-20 players in Queensland.
“It just shows that the guys that performed for us in Mal Meninga Cup have taken their chances,” Ipswich Jets 2015 under-18 coach Brendon Lindsay said.
Lindsay is not surprised the likes of Kurnoth, Pakau and Lenehan have succeeded, as they were the standouts in their under 18 side.
But the others have proven that, given the opportunity, they are more than capable of raising their games to a higher level.
“It shows if you have the opportunity and take it sports are available,” Lindsay said.
Prior to coaching the under 18s, Lindsay spent two years coaching the Colts side alongside 2015 coach Adam Boettcher.
So he was the ideal man to prepare his players for the step up to Colts level.
“The way I coached, what I asked for was flow-on effort,” Lindsay said.
“In terms of terminology and how we go about coaching the boys it is similar. It’s just about competing and working hard.”
Boettcher said introducing the under 18s to Colts footy had not been difficult.
“Obviously you’d prefer to be winning,” he said.
“But the most positive thing is three quarters of the squad will be backing up next year and beyond.
“It bodes well for the next couple of seasons with guys that played games this year who wouldn’t have if we had a full-strength side.”
The Jets Colts have used a total of 35 players throughout the season, highlighting how tough Boettcher’s job has been maintaining a consistent team.
But he has not been let down by any of the youngsters who made the step up from Mal Meninga Cup.
“Being under Brendan they have come up with a good attitude,” Boettcher said.
“They were well coached and drilled. It was seamless.”
The experience they have gained means Boettcher’s job will be much easier next year, with the youngsters knowing exactly what is required and having the confidence to deal with it.
“It’ll be massive, having that experience,” Boettcher said.
“They’ll hit the ground running.”