Chicken pasta-loving Jet reflects on taste of retirement
IPSWICH Jets warrior Nat Neale enjoys a feed of chicken pesto pasta preparing for matches.
He'll need to load up with a decent serve bracing to face the powerhouse Townsville Blackhawks pack in the Jets' Intrust Super Cup season opener at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday.
However, the long-serving fearless leader has a huge appetite for success.
Neale looked fit and relaxed at Thursday night training, having kept his weight between 106 and 110kg.
"I think it's been the toughest one so far,'' he said, when asked how this pre-season compared to previous years.
"Just the massive break away from footy (due to COVID). It was hard to get motivated.
"It was a taste of retirement I guess.''
But there was no stopping the New Zealand-born Jets workhorse who loves to celebrate after a game with beer and pizza.
"Everyone has worked really hard this pre-season,'' the prop/second rower said.
"All the young boys are pushing for spots so all the oldies have had to really knuckle down and have a crack.''
Preparing for the first game of the new season, the Jets are bolstered by the return of regulars including Jayden Connors, Peter Gubb, Richard Pandia, Josh Cleeland, Julian Christian and Kierran Moseley.
In his second stint with the Jets having made his debut in 2011, Neale is more than happy with the make-up of the Ipswich unit.
"We've managed to keep the same squad from last pre-season to now so that's been a plus,'' he said.
Of the newcomers, Neale said newcomer Jordan Carriera, nicknamed the Lamborghini, is the team's new superstar.
"All the boys are really impressive. They've put in pre-season,'' the captain said.
Neale regularly wins the Allan Langer Medal as the Jets best and fairest player.
The former Queensland Residents footballer is also a regular best and fairest or team of the year inclusion in the Intrust Super Cup awards.
Now 32, the former Souths NRL player has family to think about, especially with 18 month old son Hudson and his fiancee.
He loves working with coach Lander, who has taken what he learnt alongside innovative Walker brothers Ben and Shane and put his own stamp on the squad.
"Keiron is awesome,'' Neale said.
"He's brought structure and accountability I guess to the club.
"It was there to begin with but I think there's been more focus on those two things.
"He's done a really good job and all the boys really respect him.''
Neale said his team expectations were to make top four in this year's Intrust Super Cup season.
Free Kayo live streaming of Qld Cup matches
In another major boost for rugby league fans, Kayo is livestreaming regular Intrust Super Cup games for free starting this weekend.
The first Ipswich Jets match being live streamed on Kayo is against the Sunshine Coast Falcons in round three.
Other games will be showcased from this weekend starting with the PNG Hunters and Wynnum (Saturday) and Souths Logan v Burleigh (Sunday).
Look for the games under the Kabo Freebies app or visit kayosports.com.au/freebies.