Stephenson departs Jets

THE IPSWICH Jets have lost their 80-minute prop forward and last year’s club captain Paul Stephenson.

Stephenson has left the club to take up a work opportunity with his family back in Sydney.

The former NRL player with the Cronulla Sharks and Manly Sea Eagles told the club of his decision yesterday and Jets’ chief executive Brad Wolens said losing Stephenson’s strong leadership would hurt the club.

“But we have some great young props coming through and Stephenson knew that he was leaving the club in good hands,” Wolens said.

“He’s been really good for this club over the past two years, but we can’t begrudge him from taking this opportunity.”

Stephenson is notoriously quiet when it comes to the media and maintained his form when asked for a comment from The Queensland Times, politely declining.

The Jets are set to secure the services of Papua New Guinea Test prop Nixon Kolo who may slot straight into Stephenson’s number 10 jersey.

Kolo will be partnered by either Tyson Lofipo, Matty McPhee, Nathanial Neale or Ronnie Alovili.

“Nixon is a really good player and he should be arriving in a couple of weeks,” Wolens said..

“Tyson was excellent for us last year and will likely start.

“Ronnie has NRL written all over him ... he just needs to focus on footy more.

“We are well stocked in the front row so we will miss Stephenson but it’s not a season-ending blow luckily because of the depth we have.”

Wolens said Lofipo had attracted NRL interest during the off-season.

“The Manly Sea Eagles were pretty keen on him, but it didn’t quite work out,” Wolens said.

“I think he is NRL quality and hopefully something happens with the Titans because he deserves a chance at the next level.”

Kolo will be joined at the Jets by his PNG teammate Charlie Wabo.

But diminutive hooker Benjamin John has reneged on a handshake deal with the Jets and chosen to head to Sydney with the Newtown Jets.

But Wolens said Wabo was a hooker anyway and would cover John’s position.

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