Jets' ISC rivals wake in fright
KANGAROOS stay well clear of the Ipswich Jets these days.
If the presence of "The kangaroo catcher'' Michael Purcell was not already enough to strike fear into Australia's most prevalent plant-eating marsupial, then surely West End Bulldog Blake Lenehan will send them hopping.
Lenehan is a dependable forward with an exceptional work ethic.
He has been outstanding when called up to the Intrust Super Cup side this season.
But the former Gold Coast Titans under-20 star's appreciation for hard work is not limited to the football field.
For a 10-month period during his two-year stint at the Titans, he skinned kangaroos for a living at a Wulkuraka business specialising in game meats.
Employees also skinned pigs at the site but Lenehan was responsible for the roos.
It was grubby, physically demanding, gruesome and unrelenting but this Bulldog since age 11 would not have it any other way.
In an effort to secure his future, the 21-year-old has since taken up a sparkie apprenticeship. He's now in his third year.
Lenehan said it was important to have a back-up plan in case his NRL ambitions did not come to fruition.
"That's why I wanted to do it,” he said. "It will always be there.
"I like working with my hands. It is a pretty good job.”
The Queensland-born lifelong resident of Ipswich was one of the very few north of the border still celebrating after Wednesday night's heartbreaking State of Origin defeat.
Despite growing up in maroon heartland, the former Bundamba State High School student is a diehard Blues supporter. He also backs the Canberra Raiders and his favourite player of all-time is Danny Buderus.
With his family naturally mad supporters of Queensland, the Ipswich Jet's allegiances were the cause of much conflict in the Lenehan household around this time of year.
"Me and the old boy would blue all the time,” he said. "He would send me to bed early.”
Lenehan began the season at the kennel but impressive showings for the Bulldogs, coupled with injuries at the Jets, have propelled him into the Queensland Cup side.
He said there was a chasm in quality between the local competition and the Intrust Super Cup but he felt he was handling the step up.
"It is definitely a lot faster,” he said. "The contact is heavier and the physicality required is greater.
"Even in going from the bench to starting, you can feel that difference in tempo.”
Though the Titans opted not to sign him when he finished under-20s, the promising workhorse uses that disappointment to drive him and still holds hopes that an NRL club will come calling.
Playing prop or second row, Lenehan aims to earn more minutes on the field and start consistently in the Cup before cracking the big-time.
Meanwhile, Ipswich five-eighth Josh Cleeland is still recovering from knee surgery.
The star playmaker had a cleanout of his meniscus.
It has been a slow and boring few weeks off the paddock for Cleeland, who has been undergoing rehab and strengthening his quad through a series of exercises prescribed by his physiotherapist.
"The (exercise) bike has been my best friend,” he said.
"Otherwise it has been Netflix and chill.”
A scaffolder by trade, Cleeland is already back working at height.
He had his first run at training on Tuesday and pulled up sore, so is not expected to return until next weekend.
"I'm champing at the bit to get back out there and help the boys,” he said.
Cleeland said it was a rollercoaster of emotions watching his teammates fall to Redcliffe in the dying seconds last weekend.
"For most of the game it looked like they didn't really need me,” he said.
"But momentum changed and they couldn't turn it around.
"It was heartbreak for the boys, especially given the hard work they had put in.
"The young boys who stepped up didn't deserve it to finish like that.”
Intrust Super Cup Rd 17 Sunday: 3pm - Easts Tigers v Ipswich Jets at Langlands Park.