Filipine set to deliver in 2011
HE HAS physical gifts most rugby league battlers would give anything for, but a lack of confidence has always managed to betray the athlete that is Ipswich Jets winger Ramon Filipine.
But those in the know at the Jets said this year could be the one where the flying Filipine finally finds consistency.
And it all starts at North Ipswich Reserve at 8pm tonight when the Jets take on the Sydney Roosters in the year's first trial match.
Filipine, who is eligible to represent Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga, is now part of the Jets' four-man leadership group.
He has been given the role of helping the club's young Polynesian players develop.
For many Jets fans who have seen Ramon play as if he was in his own world over the years, the thought of him being a leader would come as a shock, but not to those who know him.
He will start on the wing tonight, lining up against the Roosters grand final winger Joseph Leilua.
“He will be a good leader for the club and that responsibility will help take his game to another level,” Jets chairman Steve Johnson said.
Johnson has spent plenty of time with Ramon during the last few years, helping him through personal issues.
Johnson said this year would be the 190cm winger's best.
“His problem has always been consistency but I think with the amount of confidence he is showing off the field and the greater leadership role he is showing on it, he will find that consistency,” Johnson said.
“He's a bloke who should be playing NRL really and there's still time for him.”
When Filipine is on, there is no one more destructive in the Queensland Cup.
For the Jets' fortunes this year, having a switched-on rampaging winger in the mould of Manu Vatuvei would help them immensely.
Tonight's game will mark the start of what the Jets hope will be a long season culminating in a finals berth.
Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea Test star Charlie Wabo arrives in Ipswich tonight ahead of his debut with the Jets, likely to come in next week's trial match against the Melbourne Storm.
The Kumuls hooker and lock will immediately begin training with the Jets.
The Jets are still waiting on news as to whether Nixon Kolo, the impressive prop who matched it with England star Sam Burgess in last year's Four Nations, will be coming to the club.
Jets chief executive Brad Wolens said the club needed a prop to fill the void left by the departure of former captain Paul Stephenson.
The Jets almost re-signed the club's former cult hero Aaron Sweeney.
Sweeney starred in the Jets' 2008 run to the grand final, mixing firebrand theatrics with sublime off-loads and damaging runs.
“We were interested in him and he was keen on coming up, but he had a few offers on the table and the timing wasn't quite right for us,” Wolens said. “He just took a better offer I guess so good luck to him. He was great for our club when he was here.”
Ipswich Jets v Sydney Roosters tonight at North Ipswich Reserve.
Under 16 Ipswich v Sunshine Coast 5pm.
Under 18 Ipswich v Sunshine Coast 6.30pm.
RT Edwards Ipswich Jets v Sydney Roosters 8pm.
Prices: Adults $10.
Children under 16 free.