Popular Ipswich Jets footballer Tyson Lofipo has a fine achievement to savour this weekend.
Popular Ipswich Jets footballer Tyson Lofipo has a fine achievement to savour this weekend.

Jets footballer worthy of celebrating 200 game milestone


Michael Nunn

SOME players you gravitate to seem like good blokes. You joke with them and they always seem to ask you questions and remember your answer.

They make fun of your red hair but you don't mind.

They give thoughtful answers when you ring and they even have a secret handshake with you, relevant to your role. Mine is a pen writing after we shake.

At the Jets, that's Tyson Lofipo.

This week Lofipo will become the second Jet to play 200 Intrust Super Cup games and the 19th player across the competition.

All his attributes make Lofipo a good bloke before he even gets on the field. Then you see his work ethic and his footwork. He's hard not to love.

Lofipo has overcome some horrific injuries and if it wasn't for those injuries he would be pushing Phil Dennis' record of 282 games.

He made his debut in 2006 for the Jets against Souths in a 44-34 loss at the North Ipswich Reserve.

Ben and Shane Walker coached Lofipo for 142 of the 199 games he's played for the Jets.

"Tyson is a champion guy who typifies what being a Jets player is all about," Ben said.

"He began on the wing and brought his incredible late footwork into the forward pack.

"A great guy to coach, a lovely fellow to be around and a mate to all of your children. One of our favourite players to coach."

Tyson Lofipo.
Tyson Lofipo.

Shane Walker had a similar sentiment about his big front row forward.

"Tyson is exactly what every club should have, humble and just terrific to be around," Shane said.

"It can't be stated enough that he went from the wing to the front row.

"People will lose sight of just how hard that is to do and to do it with some injuries just makes him even more special.

"A great clubman and I am really proud of him; not just the footballer Tyson but the husband, father and man."

Tyson's greatest supporter has been his wife Natalia who has been beside Tyson for 15 years.

Tyson has endured some painful injuries.

"In 2014, he did his ACL. In 2015, he was coming back and then did his meniscus then his Ulna Radius playing in Hawaii for Toa Samoa," Natalia said.

"It was another season ending injury and it was so disappointing because he missed the grand final.

"It shows what a great teammate he is he ran the water for the season and helped out Ben and Shane when he could.

"I was so proud when he came back again and won the Jets forward of the year in 2017.

"Then in 2019 he tore his Lisfranc and was out again for the season. 2020 was going to be different but COVID hit.

"He's overcome all those things and now he's playing 200 games for the club he loves.

"Tyson has been a committed and dedicated player for the Jets.

"He has grown as a player and a person.

"Tyson is an athlete who has an unquestionable thirst to improve himself. However he has a remarkable gift of giving grace to those around him all while pushing his teammates to become more.

"Tyson is humble and has inspired and encouraged so many others and myself with injuries to never give up or settle, but rather to relentlessly pursue their dreams and become all they were created to be.

"This is an unselfish gift of seeking the best for his teammates and not himself and I believe that this is one of his highest qualities of characters.

"His children family and myself are so incredibly proud of this achievement and have loved watching and supporting him though his footy journey.

"The Jets have been a supportive club and we have been so blessed to have met some amazing people though our journey."

Why playing the Bears is no picnic

THE Burleigh Bears would be a horrible date. You wouldn't want to take them out for dinner.

They've inflicted so much pain on Ipswich and they've done it with a smile on their face which makes it even worse.

The Jets have a terrible record heading down the coast this weekend having not won there since 2013.

The Jets were able to beat the Bears in August 2013 when they won 40-22.

At Pizzey Park, where Saturday's match is being played, the Burleigh Bears have won 12, with Ipswich six and one draw.

Ipswich have four wins and a draw from past nine games there.

In 2019, the Jets got hammered 42-8.

In round 16, 2017, it was the first time the Jets were kept scoreless since 1997 and Burleigh went savage, winning 44-0.

The past three trips to the Bears lair have produced 110 points for the Bears and 28 for the Jets.

The Jets haven't beaten the Bears since 2017. That was when the Jets won 18-12 with Michael Purcell scoring two tries.

The Bears lead the Jets 26 wins to 15 with two draws.

The despair as you drive home from the Coast runs deep and no amount of takeaway and comfort eating fixes it.

You swear next year will be different so here we go again and yes, this time it will be different.

Ipswich Jet Richard Pandia.
Ipswich Jet Richard Pandia.

One of the Jets that will be needed to make it happen is Rich Pandia.

Pandia has been tremendous bringing the ball back and making ground.

Pandia is the Jets' Brian To'o.

His contribution the past two weeks has been 171 metres and 217 metres. If you're a Jets forward coming back onside that's pure gold.

"We fell into that old trap against the Tweed of trying to do too much when simple football would have got the job done," Pandia said.

"Coming out of our end we spoke about simple football, no offloads get to the 40 and kick well, with a chase.

"Then what we do is offload and have a crack at something we don't have to do.

"We need to get back to what we did against the Capras which was just simple and effective.

"I am not too sure why we don't get the result we want at the Coast. Maybe it's the drive but any ground is the same if you don't turn up ready you will get beaten.

"Bears have had some great teams too. It's not the ground beating you."

The Jets did a lot right against the Seagulls last weekend. They completed well at 72% and missed less tackles but it was when they made errors more than how many that caught the Jets out.

The Bears had a day out against the Devils, winning 36-0. They now have won three from six games.

The Bears are warming nicely winning two games in a row.

The Bears scored twice in the first eight minutes and Norths couldn't stop the bleeding from there.

Sami Sauiluma was outstanding for the Bears, scoring two tries.

The Bears had 56% of the ball and stopped the Devils making a single line break and kept the pressure on with four repeat sets.

The Jets will be looking to start smart and make sure they keep the Bears without the ball.

Player to watch

BEARS fullback Kurtis Rowe seems to have been at the Bears forever. I am sure he took over from Reggie Cressbrook.

Rowe has scored 60 tries for the Bears in his 95 games.

The Bears stalwart is closing in 100 Intrust Super Cup games. The dual premiership winning Duncan Hall medallist has achieved plenty of big things in his career and he will be looking to add a Jets scalp to his collection this week.

"Ipswich is always tough, we change our defence for Ipswich," Rowe said.

"This week will be the same, threats all over the park and skilful players that we will have to stop.

"Ipswich is always a challenge and we need to make sure we are not shooting up in defence, just nice and straight and calm in the line and wait until the ball has gone past you."

The Jets light stepping, try scoring maestro on the Bears radar is Julian Christian.

Christian has now scored six tries in six games and is closing in on the 100 points.

He has scored 23 tries and one goal for 94 points from 43 games for the Jets.

Christian was at it again against Tweed with 12 runs and 118 metres, one-line break and one try to back up his five tackle breaks.

"It's nice scoring tries but I would rather be winning games,'' Christian said. "It's a team sport and I just want to win.

"We had a great plan on Saturday and we went away from it for 15 minutes and Tweed scored three times.

"We have to stick to what we know works and will win us games."

Cooper's stat

TYSON Lofipo will have played the 19th most games in the Intrust Super Cup with Wynnum's Matthew Seamark on 200 games.

Lofipo is the ninth player to play 200 games for one club.

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