Jets give NRL bad boy second chance
CANBERRA utility Marshall Chalk says former Raiders teammate Jason Bulgarelli will bring great leadership qualities to the Ipswich Jets next season. Bulgarelli, who was sacked from the Raiders in 2004 for an alleged drugs indiscretion, is attempting to revive his career with Ipswich in the Queensland Cup. Chalk was yesterday delighted to hear that his good mate had signed with his old club. "He's great to play with," Chalk said while enjoying a break from the demands of professional footy at his family's Carney's Creek farm. "(We) loved having him in the team. He's a hard trainer and he does all the little things right. "He'll probably bring some good leadership to the place as well." An explosive centre, Bulgarelli made his first grade debut for the Raiders in 2003. The Illawarra junior held down a permanent spot in the Raiders' backline before his sudden departure at the end of the 2004 season. Chalk declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding Bulgarelli's sacking. However, the former Fassifern Bombers and Jets star said Bulgarelli was a top "family man" and brilliant footballer. "He played so well for us (at the Raiders)," Chalk said yesterday. "He was outstanding in reserve grade and then when he went to first grade he was outstanding there as well." Bulgarelli is the Ipswich club's highest-profile signing since former Broncos and London forward Steele Retchless joined the Jets for the 2005 season. Jets CEO Brendan Hurst believes Bulgarelli's presence will ease the pressure on proven leaders Ricky Bird and Danny Coburn. Hurst said Bulgarelli had some "unfinished business in rugby league". "Jason's really looking for an opportunity," Hurst revealed last night. "From our perspective, it's a great signing in that it gives us a bit of experience next year." "People that I respect in football have highly recommended him." Bulgarelli has the potential to form a match-winning centre combination with emerging star Ricky Dodd. Dodd, a former Souths Logan flyer, is tipped to be one of the Jets' big improvers next season. Having invited numerous players from the local area to trial, Hurst said the Jets were close to finalising all three squads for the 2007 season. Pre-season training begins under new coach Kevin Walters on November 13. Walters is eager to cast an eye over the club's recruits, including the likes of Bulgarelli and props Aaron Sweeney (Centrals Comets) and Trevor Exton (Easts). Sweeney and Exton are proven Queensland Cup players and their arrival should bolster Ipswich's depth in the forwards. The Jets have retained the majority of players from last season's squad. Players to have moved on include Chris Scanlan (Sharks), McKenna Gibson and Johnathan Muir (both Souths Logan).