Jets star given Titans chance
HE has the ball skills of a five-eighth and the imposing frame of a rampaging back-rower so it is no wonder the Gold Coast Titans are giving Ipswich Jets star Jacob Ling a shot at the NRL.
Ling will head to the tourist strip in two weeks to begin a month-long, full-time training stint as part of the Titans NRL squad.
The second-rower will also play in their two trial matches, the first of which will be against the Greg Inglis-led South Sydney Rabbitohs on February 19.
For the 23-year-old full-time barman the four weeks of intense training represents an opportunity he may not see again.
“I want to go to the next level and I will do anything I can to make it,” Ling said.
“It's been my dream to play in the NRL since I was a kid and I'm not going to have any regrets about whether I could have done this or that to get there.
“If it doesn't work out then it doesn't work out. But this trial means a lot to me and I'm going to do what I can to make it count.”
Last year Ling spent two weeks with the Titans during their pre- season but he juggled it with drink-pouring duties at Ipswich Jets Leagues Club.
Unfortunately, it made his time at the Titans difficult.
“I learnt from that. It was really hard trying to work it all out, managing work and training at the Gold Coast, so this time I have taken the four weeks off so I can be completely available,” Ling said.
“You're competing for spots with guys who train full time and don't have jobs, so it's hard.
“But I'm not complaining because I love my job.”
Jets chief executive Brad Wolens said the Titans were interested in Ling as a potential NRL player.
“I know Scott Clark (Titans football operations manager) is keen on him and if he isn't needed for the NRL then the training at the Titans will really help him when he comes back to the Jets,” Wolens said.
“It's a great reward for him. He's done really well for us during the past couple of seasons.”
Ling was arguably the best player for the Jets last year.
It was his ability to throw rapid-fire cut-out passes one minute, then barge through would-be tacklers the next that earned him high praises in a losing Jets team.
Ling thanks Jets coaches Ben and Shane Walker for allowing him the freedom to use his ball skills during matches.
“I can't be one dimensional at my age, and expect to make the next step, because NRL clubs would rather just get a younger guy in they can work on,” Ling said.
“I played some five-eighth as a kid but being able to pass is something I just kind of developed as I got older.
“Some coaches want their players to just tuck it under the arm and run but Ben and Shane have always encouraged me to go with my instincts so I have to thank them for that.”
Ling has been one of dozens of Ipswich Jets players helping to clean up flood-ravaged suburbs in Ipswich.
Coach Ben Walker's place had to be gutted after being inundated with water, while several other players had severe flood damage.
“I'm really proud of how all the boys have been so willing to help the community,” Wolens said.