Jets boss not phased by brutal schedule
COACH Shane Walker has welcomed the challenge presented to the Ipswich Jets by the Intrust Super Cup fixturing gurus.
Yesterday, Queensland Rugby League released the 2019 ISC draw - and it made for interesting reading as a Jets fan.
The green and white face off against each of their 2018 finals rivals in the first five rounds of the season.
Meetings with the seventh-ranked PNG Hunters and eighth-placed Norths Devils immediately follow.
It means the Jets will face the top eight sides - aside from themselves - in consecutive weeks to open the season.
Of that same group, the Blackhawks face 5/7 and Pride, Hunters and Devils all face 4/7 sides from last season's top eight.
Furthermore, the Jets' three away games in that span are arguably the three hardest away draws of the Queensland Cup - to Burleigh, Redcliffe and PNG.
"Very good," said Walker, who only learned of the specifics of the draw this morning.
"It's exciting. I look forward to coming through those games 7-0."
Walker said the tough run to open the season may actually favour the Jets. That it will provide an early litmus test for where the team is at, and added "it's a lot easier for us to play the teams perceived to be half-handy, than the teams going no good."
Another announcement from the QRL was the introduction of an eight-team finals series, moving in line with the NSW competition and NRL.
Walker said the move was "good for the competition" and also the Jets.
"It's interesting, because if it's eight teams that means we'd have never missed the playoffs in 10 years," he said.
"For all the supporters of the various teams, it gives two more teams a glimmer of hope in the playoffs.
"August and September is a great time of year. If you're a supporter of a team in with a hope, it's all the better."
Casting his eye over the draw, Walker welcomed the round one clash against the Blackhawks and a reprisal of the "Get in the Game Country Week" round clash with Northern Pride.
"We've built up a healthy rivalry (with the Blackhawks) since their inception, I think it's a great way to start the season," he said.
"There's reports the (Pride) game is in the Torres Strait. If that's true, it would be wonderful, to take a game up there, get into some communities and perhaps extend the stay."