Diggers target state title win
IPSWICH begins its bid for South East Queensland rugby league supremacy on Saturday at Brisbane's West End.
The Diggers take on Brisbane Division 2 at Davies Park.
A win is essential if the Diggers hope to progress from their division, which includes Gold Coast - who Ipswich tackles at the North Ipswich Reserve on May 12.
The winner progresses to the state semi-finals of the XXXX Challenge.
Ipswich coach Paul Lowe is confident his team is in with a genuine show.
A squad of 25 trained together last Wednesday.
The squad will be cut to 19 after training today.
"You always get an injury or two between games," Lowe said. "So it's good to have them all on board and knowing what we are doing."
The squad includes plenty of new and a number of familiar faces with Andrew Walker to captain from five-eighth.
"I couldn't go past him," Lowe said of the 38-year-old dual international.
"All the boys respect him."
That means Josh Roberts will play in the centres, subject to injury.
The two best fullbacks in the comp are both playing centre at the moment, with Lowe tipping Jarrod Biggs to wear the number one jersey, ahead of Nemani Suguturaga.
"We'll probably go with Biggsy," Lowe said. "He's got a bit more of a passing game."
The other main point of contention is halfback where Brothers' Jason Connors and Fassifern's Kaliova Nauqe have strong claims.
Connors is likely to start with Nauqe used off the bench when defences start to tire.
"Both will be in our 17," Lowe said.
Lowe said selection was dictated by players the coach could trust to take the step up, with balance playing a big part in which forwards will make the cut.
"Going to the next level, having a side that can go to the next level of intensity is important," he said.
"That's one area we want to look for from our forwards."
It is why Lowe is relieved to have the services of Sione Piutau.
There was some concern over the eligibility of Piutau, Jacob Stephan, Suguturaga and Joe Mika.
All four have been playing for their club sides as well as the Ipswich Jets this season.
But they have been cleared to play for the Diggers.
"Sione's in good condition," Lowe said.
"Last year I was using him from the bench as an impact player.
"This year I'll be looking for him to start and he's keen."
But Stephan is in doubt with a shoulder injury.
The Brisbane side includes former Swifts prop Charlie Tonga but Lowe said he wouldn't spend much time worrying about what the opposition might do.
"I'm more focused on what we've got to do," he said.