TOUGH AS NAILS: Ben Shea has made an immediate impact on the field since signing for the Ipswich Jets in the off-season.
TOUGH AS NAILS: Ben Shea has made an immediate impact on the field since signing for the Ipswich Jets in the off-season. Franca Tigani

Shea rediscovers passion with Jets

BEN SHEA is back enjoying his footy once again.

The former Wynnum Manly forward has appreciated the "more laid back" approach to rugby league employed at the Ipswich Jets, and has taken little time finding his feet in the green and white.

Through three rounds, Shea trailed only Jets teammate Sebastian Pandia for run metres gained in the Intrust Super Cup.

He is averaging a touch over 10m per run, and was named best on field by his teammates in the Jets' win over Easts Tigers in round three. But the consummate clubman was quick to shift credit to the workhorses either side of him.

"When you've got guys like Sebby (Pandia) out there for 80 minutes, offloading and backing up . . . Natty (Nat Neale) putting his body on the line every time, Rowan (Winterfield) and Tyson (Lofipo); when everyone is doing their job and putting their body on the line, it's hard not to put your hand up," Shea said.

The Queensland Residents representative found himself at a career crossroads in 2016, when he ruptured the patellar tendon and separated the knee cap on his right leg.

After two surgeries and 12 months on the sidelines, including eight months off work, Shea briefly returned to play Reserve Grade at Wynnum.

But with a baby on the way, and the chance of re-injury putting his immediate working future in jeopardy, Shea stepped away to focus on his family life.

"Then I got a call from Ben (Walker) asking if I was interested, and I thought why not, I'll give it a go," Shea said.

Shea, who still lives in Wynnum and regularly sees his former teammates, immediately felt at home at his new club.

"It's been good, that they wanted me to come to the club felt good, it was nice to be approached by them," Shea said of his chat with Ben and Shane Walker.

"They told me not to change my style too much, to play my normal game and they would work that in a bit with everyone else around me.

"They've tailored a few things to the way I play, and it seems to be working.

"It's been very enjoyable."

Shea said the biggest difference between the Jets and Wynnum was the "laid back" approach employed at the Ipswich club - although he was hesitant to use the term, because it may give the wrong impression.

"Everything we do at training has a purpose and works for us," he said.

"Sometimes from the outside looking in, it can seem to be all about free-flowing, ad-lib footy, but everything we do at training is tailored toward a purpose.

"It's more laid back but at the same time no one takes it easy.

"With guys like Keiron Lander still a leader around the club, and obviously Ben and Shane, it's a great culture and a great place to be around at the moment.

"I've really enjoyed being with a new team. It's a fresh coat of paint for me."

Shea is pleased with his performances to start the season, and said he had received feedback as such from the coaching staff and his teammates.

But he stressed there was always room for improvement; both individually, and as a collective.

"That loss in PNG, I won't say it was a good thing, but we took a lot out of it," Shea said referencing the narrow round one defeat.

"We lost Dane Phillips in the first eight minutes, playing with 16 and were still in with a chance to win with 15 seconds to go.

"I think we took a lot of confidence out of that. That rolled into our game against the Blackhawks - I thought we played really well then - and again (against Easts) as well.

"I think I've still got some improvement in me. But I'm enjoying trying to fit with the boys and their style of play; learning off them and trying to be better."



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