Review lifts Jets hopes
THE prospects of the Ipswich Jets finding an NRL club to join forces with were given a boost last week that could also impact on Ipswich's junior stars.
The game's new national commission has vowed to review the decision preventing Queensland Cup clubs acting as feeder clubs for NRL clubs.
It gives the Jets a much greater chance to find a club to link with in future, following the Gold Coast Titans' decision to break ties with Ipswich at the end of this season.
Jets chairman Steve Johnson insists the Jets are looking for an NRL club to provide them with off-field support, rather than players.
The Ipswich Junior Rugby League (IJRL) is in a similar boat - its agreement with the Sydney Roosters ends this year - and Johnson hopes the Jets and IJRL can work together to find a club to meet both their needs.
"I heard the news they've rescinded the ridiculous decision by NSW to boycott dual registration," Johnson said of the NRL commission.
"We're a pathway club.
"We've got a luxury compared to Sunshine Coast and Souths Logan in the amount of talent we produce.
"Our biggest problem is them being taken away from us."
Johnson could well be referring to the likes of Ipswich juniors Perry Ioane and Jo Ofahengaue.
The Ipswich under-18s (Mal Meninga Cup) were deprived of the services of gun forwards Ioane and Ofahengaue because of the arrangement in place between the IJRL and the Roosters.
The pair, like Ipswich's Tautau Moga last year, was instead required to play SG Ball for the Roosters.
Which is why Johnson wants to work closely with the IJRL to secure any new deal.
"Any relationship will be in conjunction with the junior body (IJRL) and the IRL," Johnson said.
"We won't have kids out for the 16s and 18s competitions.
"Our message to Sydney clubs is you can leave them behind and trust us to develop them.
"Stop taking them away as kids because it's detrimental to the game in Ipswich.
"We believe we're a strong enough club, with a record of developing NRL players, so dual registration doesn't really bother us.
"We're probably one of the Broncos' strongest feeder clubs, unofficially.
"We just need that formal relationship so kids can see there is a pathway.
"We're not looking to bring NRL players back into the club."
Johnson leads the Western Corridor's NRL bid team but does not believe the uncertainly over its prospects will have an adverse affect of finding an NRL club to enter into a relationship with in the meantime.
"I think it actually encourages one," Johnson said.
"There's going to be nine-and-a-half thousand junior players in the western corridor, which will grow rapidly for the next 10 years.
"That's more than we can handle so that will be of benefit to the Broncos and Titans and particularly for Sydney clubs who are having trouble developing juniors."