Early losses left Ipswich Jets with too much to do
IF only. It is the start of many a sentence when a sporting team looks back on a season where the opportunity to play finals football slip slides away.
If only the Ipswich Jets had not lost five games in a row from round two to round six this year, they would still be in the hunt for the Intrust Super Cup play-offs.
After covering the Jets under the coaching of Ben and Shane Walker for seven seasons, I consider one key area the team could improve on is banking wins through- out the season before the side receives an ultimatum.
The Jets seem to thrive when they have to win 'X' number of games in a row to achieve their goal.
They did it in 2015 when they won five sudden death finals in a row to claim the Intrust Super Cup and NRL State Championship.
It would be advantageous to all concerned if the Jets could become more like the Melbourne Storm and put wins in the bank on a more regular basis.
That's why the Storm are sitting pretty atop the NRL ladder with a four-point buffer and a healthy for and against.
Co-coach Shane Walker agreed the Jets simply left themselves too much to do after winning just one of their opening six games.
"That put a lot of pressure on us," Walker said.
"You always want to be in a position where you can drop one or two games on the way home, because you can live with that and deal with it.
"Those early losses were critical."
The Jets should be boosted next year by the return of star back Marmin Barba who will complement fellow flyer Michael Purcell.
The Intrust Super Cup is without doubt a wonderful competition because each game is a contest.
With just seven points separating first from sixth, the order of that top six is far from settled.
"While the six is decided, the make-up of that six is far from decided," Walker said.
"We will be trying right until the end of the season and, as we always do, we will entertain our fans."
The Jets have the bye this weekend and then host Mackay on August 19 and take on CQ Capras
The QT asked Walker whether the decision not to take malaria tablets, as reported on the front page on Saturday, had helped the side in their 20-4 loss to the PNG Hunters.
"It did,'' he grinned.
"Usually you go over there and have blokes halfway through getting strapped or halfway through warming who have to race off to the toilet.
"This year the lead-up was as good as it could be."