Lander hungry for elusive title glory
KEIRON Lander is a driven man.
The 27-year-old Ipswich Jets captain has never been involved in a grand final, let alone won one.
With time running out in his career, naturally the tough as teak lock would love 2015 to be his year.
I'm not sure if Lander and the Jets believe in omens, but if they do then his performance with a driver on the golf course at the Intrust Super Cup launch yesterday will be cause for optimism.
In a nice variation on your standard launch, each of the captains or leading players from the 14 clubs drove a practice drive down the fairway at Victoria Park Golf Club.
Lander's was the straightest and the longest, by a good margin.
But the truth is he would swap any number of holes-in-one on a golf course for a maiden Intrust Super Cup title with the Jets.
He'd probably give his left leg for that honour.
Storm star Billy Slater said recently that his hunger for success had not diminished with age. Lander can relate to that.
"When my hunger is gone, that is the day I will give up," he says.
"But my hunger is still very much there. When you have new fellas come in to the side you don't want to prove a point, but you want to lead the way."
The Jets exit at the hands of Wynnum-Manly in week two of last year's semi-finals left a scar that wounded Lander to the core of his being.
"The way we went out last year…I was distraught. I was devastated," Lander admits.
"It was the hardest football game I have had to get over in my life. It was an empty feeling. I got on a plane and went straight to work in Perth.
"I didn't even celebrate the end of the season. There was nothing to celebrate."
Go on YouTube and you will find vision of the 1988 BRL grand final between the Jets and Seagulls-Diehards (Valleys).
Even though I know Ipswich has never won a BRL or Queensland Cup title, at the end of the match they look like scoring the winner.
Watch it, and if you have a soft spot for the Jets, you still believe they are going to do it.
You can't change history of course, but you can change the future. The Jets have built a club to be reckoned with over the past four seasons under the tutelage of coaches Ben and Shane Walker.
Shane had an air of understated confidence about him at the club's season launch.
Shane and Ben introduced the top 17 to the audience and each player that walked on stage possessed the quality and commitment needed to be standing on the dais at the end of September.
"I think we have been part of something special, and hopefully we will create something new for the club," Lander says.
"We want to create that premiership and be part of that special day.
"We have built something over the past four years. And when I say that, it is 'we'.
"There are a lot of people who have put this club in a position where we have been competitive.
"The club is in a good position. We have a lot of young men, and a lot of senior guys that have been there for a fair while.
"There is confidence, but don't mistake confidence for arrogance.
"We have got a lot of hard work we have to put in each week, and that is on and off the field.
"That means the men turning up to work, looking after their families and getting to training and putting in 100%."
The club, which will host Wynnum-Manly in the season opener today, has learned some hard lessons.
Lander knows the difference between a good team and a great one is attention to detail.
"The little things are the most important difference between the team that wins the competition and the teams that don't," he says.
"We'll ratify what those little things are as a club, and try and make this club more competitive.
"I have never been part of grand finals, and never won one. It will be special if we can do it."