Buchan, Rob Williams and the QT)
THE US influence at the Ipswich Jets hopes to get its first chance to shine this weekend in Toowoomba.
Ipswich heads up the range to take on the Clydesdales on Saturday and Michael Garvey, Joshua Rice and Jayson Rego are itching to get involved in their first real combat since arriving.
US national squad members Rice and Rego have been here since December but Garvey, the most highly rated of the three, has been here less than a month.
Garvey hails from Philadelphia but picked up first rugby union then rugby league while attending university in Hawaii.
On returning to Philadelphia, having deferred his psychology degree, Garvey played for the Aston Bulls and was named American National Rugby League rookie of the year last year.
Like Rice and Rego, he was lured to Ipswich by the opportunity to improve as a player, thanks to Jets chairman Steve Johnson who doubles as the US Rugby League development manager.
Unlike Rice and Rego, Garvey has played four games for the US, including their last two World Cup qualifiers.
“I met someone in Hawaii who suggested I give it a try,” Garvey said of his introduction to league.
“I’d never seen it so I checked out a couple of YouTube clips and I liked the look of it.”
The winger or centre has found the challenge of Jets training to his liking.
“I’m enjoying the pace of training,” he said.
“It’s faster than anything I’ve experienced before.
“We work a lot more on everything.
“But the focus on fitness is unlike any other team I’ve played with.”
Last Friday night’s trial between the Jets and the Penrith Panthers was another eye opener.
“The speed of the game caught me by surprise,” he said.
“It’s clear the guys have been playing their whole lives.”
Garvey has already exceeded his own expectations without having played a minute of football in Australia.
But he is not tempted to make the sort of statements of intent his countrymen did recently.
Rego has declared he is gunning for a Queensland Cup spot while Rice trumped him, declaring his ambition to reach the NRL.
“My goals coming here are to leave a better player than when I arrived,” Garvey said. “I feel like I’ve already improved so I might have to set some higher goals.”
It may take some time for all three to work their way into the Queensland Cup team but in the meantime, Northern Suburbs could be the beneficiaries.
They are all co-signed with the Tigers so might get the chance to set the Ipswich Rugby League alight at some stage.
The other ambition the three Americans have while in Australia is to find some work.
They are all unemployed and living at Johnson’s home, which is good for their pecs and biceps, because they get to go to the gym every day, but not so good for their bank balances.