Inside Ipswich Jets pre-season training: What to expect
FOR someone so passionate about Ipswich, new Jets coach Keiron Lander sets high development expectations.
"There's always things to learn. There's always new young people coming through developing and I want to give back to the game in any way I can,'' Lander said.
"And I love Ipswich. I love playing there. I love working there. I love coaching there and being part of the broader Ipswich community.''
That's why the former premiership-winning Jets captain is eager to see how his players handle the 2021 pre-season after a year out of Intrust Super Cup competition.
The rugby league warrior is confident his senior team players will return refreshed and in top nick when pre-season resumes on Monday.
"They are very keen. They're very happy where the club is at,'' Lander said.
"They are just keen to play football and they know they are at a good club which makes it a lot easier when it comes to signing them up for this year and beyond.''
During the time his squad of 35 regulars were unable to play state league footy, Lander adopted a valuable approach.
"My regular chats are more around making sure their welfare is good,'' he said.
"That their families are good and they've got jobs, and if there's any areas I can help with, I will.''
Lander arranged a mini 10-12 week training block for his younger players after the COVID restrictions eased mid-year to help them retain some "normality'' being around mates and enjoying the game.
Lander was ready to take over from former Jets co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker for a full Intrust Super Cup season before COVID shut down the annual competition.
Lander has retained most of the squad that started the year, bolstered by additions including premiership-winning Brothers A-Grade captain Wes Conlon and Norths Devils fullback David Fauid.
"He (Conlon) is a bloke that wanted to contribute back to the local competition and he has done for a couple of years. He feels like he can still compete (at the Jets),'' Lander said.
"He will provide some valuable support to the younger fellas coming through and contribute to our football. I'm pretty happy and excited about Wes.''
Lander said Fauid was among the handy fringe players from other clubs coming to the Jets.
"He's a very good player,'' Lander said.
Conlon and Fauid will be important recruits with the Jets having lost Blake Lenihan and Tyler Coburn to the Newcastle Knights. The duo are training with the NRL club through its partnership with the Jets.
"They are both good kids, come from good families, both local boys,'' Lander said.
Tyler's dad Danny is an Ipswich football legend.
Lander said Lenihan also deserved his latest reward.
"Blake works his backside off and fielded many offers but could see himself going well and developing here and he stuck to his cause,'' Lander said.
Lander is preparing to relaunch senior team training after the Jets Colts and Mal Meninga Cup sides started back this week.
"Our young men (under 18s and 21s) started on Monday with a bit of an induction,'' the head coach said.
All the Jets teams will train at the North Ipswich fields on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights leading up to the Christmas break.
Mick Armstrong is guiding the under-18 side with former Jet Chris Ash taking on the colts coaching job for the first time.
Other key coaching and team personnel include Mark Bishop, Sam Martin, Josh Seage, Shane Harris and Steve Brown.
Lander expected Nat Neale to start the season as Jets captain as he nears the end of his rugby league career.
"He's keen. He's fit and healthy,'' Lander said. "He's looking after himself.
"Our senior fellas do a wonderful job looking after themselves. They are mature men and they know what it takes to prepare for an off-season.''
With a pre-season kicking off, Lander will be ensuring the fitness levels are high to avoid injuries.
"I don't think we will take the approach differently in how much we need to train and the areas we'll focus on leading into Christmas,'' he said.
"I think though we'll be having a look at their levels of effort, fitness and the like, strength even.
"We'll probably have a better understanding come Monday. Just be able to monitor where they are at so we can progress at the right pace knowing too, that this year in the NRL, we saw more injuries in that first six weeks of the competition because of that stop-start lack of high intensity training over a longer period.
"For the elite and for our guys, it is a pretty professional environment.''
Lander said Jets strength and conditioning coach Jonathan Dore would have a vital role to play.
"Off-season prepares you well for a season ahead,'' Lander said.
"Our elite players will always tell you if they have had a good off-season, they usually have a good year.''
As for his second shot at preparing the Jets state league combination, Lander was also ready to go, having learnt from the Walker brothers before him but keen to stamp his own mark on the team.
"It's my outlet,'' he said.
"It's one of those things that I enjoy. I put a lot of attention to when I have the opportunity.
"It's second nature.
"They (the Walker brothers) have left a lot of their lessons with me.
"I've taken things that I can use and I've got my own ideas and thoughts as well.
"Combining them to get the best out of the team is what's important.''