Ipswich sign outstanding duo for two more years
TWO very different backgrounds. One shared future.
They couldn't be more dissimilar but Ipswich Jets duo Chris Ash and Nemani Valekapa have committed themselves to the Jets cause until the end of 2018.
One a damaging centre, the other a crafty halfback, both have enjoyed a stellar season for the Intrust Super Cup outfit this year.
Excited at the prospect of having two of the club's biggest strike weapons back on deck for another two seasons, Ipswich Jets CEO Jason Cubit said the announcement was a great example of two players coming through the local system.
"We want to sign as many of our guys as possible on two years deals from now on,” Cubit said. "It gives the players a certainty that they have a future with the Ipswich Jets.
"The great thing is both of these guys have come through the Ipswich Rugby League and have been part of that system and the pathways which we are promoting.”
Born in Fiji and brought to Australia by Fassifern Bombers president Kent West, Valekapa has taken his game to new heights under the Jets banner.
With 83 Intrust Super Cup games to his name, the Fijian flyer produced nine tries and 12 try-assists for Ipswich this year to earn himself an call-up to the Queensland Residents representative squad.
"Nem easily could have gone elsewhere and probably gotten double the offer we could give him,” Cubit said. "It's fantastic that Nemani has stuck with us and that he and his young family have found themselves a home in Ipswich.”
A Brothers junior, Ash has worked his way up through the Jets Colts and Reserve Grade sides to feature in the Intrust Super Cup competition. Already given the honour of captaincy for the Ipswich Diggers and Jets BRL sides this year, Ash's leadership saw him captain the XXXX Queensland Rangers to victory over the NSW Ron Massey Cup representative side.
Laughing off the tag of being a "Queensland rep'', Ash said the two year contract was a welcome change from the one year cycle.
"I think especially when you are younger and are coming up through the Colts you never know if you will be offered a contract at the end of the year,” he said.
"It takes a bit of stress out of it and it's great to know that the club really wants to have you around.”
With the rugby league World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand next year, Valekapa is already being looked at to represent his home country of Fiji. Excited that such a talented player will join him in the green and white next year, Ash said the club had picked a real club man in the quiet giant.
"Locking Nem up is massive for the club,” he said. "He runs more than 200 metres every game even if he's injured and he's just a good person to have around the club. He can be quiet but once you get to know him he's a funny man and he's a great example for the younger guys.”