Top Jet aims high
KEIRON Lander has come through his back operation and has his eyes set on the 2012 Queensland Cup title.
The Ipswich Jets captain and lock went under the knife in September to fix a prolapsed disc in his lower back.
Speaking to Lander it is obvious there is still plenty of discomfort to overcome.
But for a man who is as comfortable hunting pigs as colliding with 120kg props, it is nothing he can't deal with.
"At the moment I'm doing the basics," Lander said.
"Working on my core stability.
"I've started swimming in the pool and getting back into fitness."
The tough lock forward is far from out of the woods - or his back pain - yet.
"It's definitely a relief," he said of getting the operation done. "But I'm only seven weeks out of surgery.
"It's still got a bit of time to heal.
"It's a progressive thing.
"I'm back at working and moving around okay but it still has its moments."
Lander is confident he is on track to lead the team into the 2012 season.
"All the signs are positive," the 24-year-old indigenous health worker said.
"I'm not running yet but my fingers are crossed I'll be able to before Christmas."
The disappointment of bowing out of the opening week of finals, as he watched on injured form the sidelines, has only strengthened Lander's resolve to do better next year.
"The plan is to keep the same team, work on what we did this year and hopefully bring home the cup," he said. "I know all the boys want to stay.
"This year's team had one of the best morales I've been involved with, with everyone getting along together."
Time has not altered his views on what went wrong in the Jets' 30-6 semi-final loss to the Northern Pride in Cairns last season.
The Jets went into the match with a raft of players injured, yet Lander maintains it was their application that cost them, not the personnel.
"A few things went wrong up there," Lander said. "We didn't play to our structures and got bundled out.
"We didn't play how we do normally.
"This year the players in the whole squad performed well.
"We did have a bad injury run and suspensions hurt us a bit."
While the priority is to re-sign as many of the 2011 squad as possible, the Jets have already been active in the player market.
Joining the club for the 2012 season is 2011 Norths Devils and former Sydney Roosters Toyota Cup fullback Jarven White.
"He's very quick," Lander said of the new signing. "An elusive player who can score tries from dummy half from a long way out."