Bronco back to ignite Jets
WITH several key Jets players injured or suspended, Lama Tasi's return to the Ipswich team is perfectly timed.
The end of the Brisbane Broncos NRL season has seen the prop forward return to feeder club the Jets for today's elimination semi-final against the Mackay Cutters at Mackay.
The Jets have lost forward Sam Martin to suspension for a dangerous throw during last week's win over Wynnum Manly.
He joins suspended centre Donald Malone and injured prop Rowan Winterfield on the sidelines.
"It's a massive loss losing Rowan and Marto. But the boys filling in will step up to the plate. That includes me," Tasi said.
It has been a month since Tasi last played for the Jets and he noticed the difference when he returned to training with the team this week.
"Everyone's more focused and the intensity has really picked up," the Goodna-based 23-year-old said. "Shane and Ben (Walker) have been pushing everyone to do their job."
Last time Tasi played for the Jets was against Wynnum Manly on August 4.
Ipswich came back from 16-0 down to win, largely on the back of the likes of Tasi carting the ball through the middle of the ruck with no fuss.
It is a formula he believes can work this weekend as well.
"I reckon we'll roll them through the middle," he said.
"My job is to come on and make a difference.
"Be strong in defence, cart the ball up and lead from the front."
It has been a turbulent year for the Samoan international and one-time Emerging Queensland Maroon.
His goal at the start of the season was to play a key role in the Sydney Roosters NRL campaign. But an injury put him "behind the eight ball," to start the season.
It meant coming back through the NSW Cup and the Roosters' success gave little opportunity for a return to the NRL.
The Broncos stepped in as a saviour, signing him for the rest of 2013 and giving him the chance to play at the Jets alongside little brother, winger Tautalatasi Tasi.
Needles to say, in March, he didn't think he would end his season playing Queensland Cup finals.
"I would have said, 'That's a bit out there'," Tasi said. "But stranger things have happened.
"It's always good to play with my brother and Ipswich."
There is no trace of regret or resentment as the Roosters head into the NRL finals.
"I'm very happy for them," he said. "I'm still in contact with them. They're a tight-knit bunch, which is why they're going so well."
Tasi has found a similarly tight knit group at the Jets.
It is part of what gives him confidence they can reach the grand final against the winner of this weekend's other semi-final between Easts and Northern Pride.
"The best thing is just how everyone gets along," Tasi said.
"Ben and Shane are highly regarded. They've done it all."
The lure of playing in a grand final in Ipswich is another factor giving the Jets an edge.
"It's a massive opportunity," he said. "We could be in a grand final at home. It's not every day that happens.
"It would be good for the community and the Ipswich Jets."
Tasi is out of contract with the Broncos and is in discussions with them about a new contract.
"We're in the middle of sorting it out," he said. "Hopefully I can re-sign with the Broncos."
Queensland Cup: Ipswich Jets v Mackay at Mackay, 6pm today. The winner will advance to play the loser of Easts v Northern Pride.