A DIRECT pathway for Ipswich footballers has been established after an historic partnership between the Brisbane Broncos and the Ipswich junior and senior leagues was formalised yesterday.
The Ipswich Jets, Ipswich Rugby League (IRL) and Ipswich Junior Rugby League (IJRL) have agreed to a three-year partnership with the NRL powerhouse.
Broncos greats and former Ipswich juniors Allan Langer and Kerrod Walters were on hand at the Jets Leagues Club yesterday to celebrate the relationship.
Jets CEO Brad Wolens has hailed the partnership as a massive coup for rugby league in the city and a great boost to young Ipswich footballers who can now stay in their home environment, play with local teams and have a clearly defined pathway to the top with one of the NRL's great clubs.
The Jets have had feeder club relationships with the Raiders, Rabbitohs and Titans in the past while the juniors have just completed an association with the Roosters.
"But this is the first time in history that all three Ipswich league bodies have been under the one umbrella," Mr Wolens said.
"We have 3500 juniors and a lot of them have been leaving Ipswich.
"But now we have a pathway between the Ipswich juniors, seniors and ourselves to the Broncos there is no need for them to leave the area.
"We've had a lot pf players signed by the Broncos in the past who have then played with their other feeder teams such as Wynnum-Manly, Redcliffe or Norths.
"Now they can live at home, have that stability in their family life and play football in their local area while being dual-signed with the Broncos.
"Any of our players who are signed by Brisbane will now be dual-registered with the Broncos and Jets.
"Having our former players like Alfie and Kerrod here shows we've always had a natural pathway to the Broncos."
Langer said there was "a lot of great support for the Broncos in Ipswich".
"When I left the Jets to go the Broncos it was just around the corner," he said.
"Kids out here can now play in their own backyard and if they want to go further they can also go just down the road and play for the Broncos.
"They have something to strive for and look forward to now."