Sport

Jets in search of next Alfie Langer

IPSWICH LEGEND: The Jets will launch their search for the next Allan Langer with Project Alf.
IPSWICH LEGEND: The Jets will launch their search for the next Allan Langer with Project Alf. Brett Wortman

THE search for the next genius halfback will officially begin next week when the Ipswich Jets and 13 Ipswich junior clubs launch Project Alf.

Project Alf is the quest to find the next Allan Langer.

The search will be a joint effort between the Jets and the Ipswich Junior Rugby League (IJRL) clubs.

The Jets and the junior clubs who will also be signing an affiliation agreement for the upcoming season at Tuesday's launch.

Langer reached the pinnacle of the code in a 258-game NRL career with the Broncos that saw him captain the club to four premierships.

Born and raised in Ipswich, he played his junior footy at Norths Tigers and represented the Ipswich Jets before going on to star for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia.

Project Alf is being overseen by Jets development officer Brendon Lindsay.

Jets chairman Steve Johnson said Lindsay was "doing a great job" in his development role and that the search for the next Langer would give young players the knowledge that they can reach their rugby league dreams in Ipswich.

"We've had to bite the bullet and free up some money to make the development role happen," Johnson said.

"It is something we've been lacking at the Jets for a number of years because we lost our development sponsor.

"Brendon is a well respected person within rugby league from his days playing with us and now coaching at the club. He's been a revelation.

"It is always hard to identify talent, but if there is someone out there it will be in Ipswich.

"We've always shown that we can identify great talent."

Johnson said there were "about six NRL clubs that want to sign our youth".

"But we want to cement those pathways so boys understand that they can stay in Ipswich and still achieve their dreams in rugby league," he said.

"A lot of parents have the short sighted view that if their kids aren't aligned with an NRL club by the age of 14 or 15 that their chances of becoming the next Alf are limited, but that is not true at all.

"We've got the coaching staff in the Cyril Connell and Mal Meninga sides and the Jets itself to mentor any kid through as far as their ability will take him.

"We've shown that with Nathaniel Neale and the Rabbitohs picking him up."

Jets CEO Wayne Wendt said Langer was an obvious choice for the program and that the junior clubs in Ipswich were right behind the project.

"Alfie is the epitome of rugby league, short in stature but big in heart. And that is what we expect of this region," Wendt said.

"There are over 3000 juniors in this area and we are having all the presidents and coaching directors from the 13 junior clubs in here (at the Jets) for a meeting next week.

"We will provide each of them with a jersey that they will be able to raffle off during the year.

"They will get 25 double passes to each home game and there are offers from Canterbury and discounts at Alpha Sports.

"We will be asking the clubs to select two Project Alf winners during the year and that will be somebody who can potentially be the next Allan Langer.

"We are talking about somebody who is good on the field and good for the club.

"They will get to run the team out on the day we play at home and get to come into our dressing sheds.

"As part of the deal there is coaching available from Brendon Lindsay who will go to each of the clubs during the year."

The Jets have started their season with two promising wins over Easts in the Colts and FOGS on the weekend.

The Intrust Super Cup side lost 12-8 but with a raft of players out it was a heartening display.

The Jets will travel to Norths on Saturday for further trial matches, the same day that the Brisbane Broncos play the Cowboys at Redcliffe.

Topics:  brendon lindsay ipswich jets ipswich junior rugby league



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