Trio returns for Ipswich
AS the Ipswich Jets returned to pre-season training in 30-plus degree heat, the announcement of three new player signings was enough to warm the hearts of supporters.
The Jets have managed to re-sign former Ipswich players Kurtis Lingwoodock, Aaron Sweeney and Josh Costello for the coming season.
Lingwoodock and Sweeney were integral members of the Jets forward pack that took them to the 2008 grand final.
From there the pair joined the Brisbane Broncos where things didn't go to plan for either.
Now they are back at the Jets but such has been the change at the club since 2008, there are no guarantees either will walk into the top grade side.
The attributes Sweeney brought to the club - forward drive and bristling aggression - are not necessarily what head coaches Shane and Ben Walker are looking for.
"For the guys that were there last year, you can see the improvement compared to this time last year," Shane said at training.
"They've got that base."
If they think it will make pre-season training any easier, they can think again.
The Jets coaching staff is determined to drive them harder to test their mental, as much as physical, toughness.
"We're not doing a hell of a lot differently to last year," Shane said.
"We know what we do works.
"We went from the wooden spoon to the play-offs in a year with the same squad.
"But training will be a little bit harder because of the year's base they've got under their belts.
"They are able to push themselves a little bit harder.
"We knew coming into it last year they wouldn't have that real hard base under them.
"We know mentally we've got the toughest team.
"Pushing them hard is the only way you can find out."
Lingwoodock was among those pushing himself in the heat this week and Shane is delighted to have the 21-year-old back.
After failing to make the Brisbane Broncos senior squad, Lingwoodock spent the 2011 season with Broncos feeder club Wynnum Manly, playing his part in their Queensland Cup grand final triumph.
"He's a premiership-winning player, a quality player and a great bloke," Shane said of Lingwoodock.
"He definitely adds a lot and he's in good shape."
Sweeney, who only put pen to paper on Wednesday, might find he needs to make some adjustments to fit back in
Last year, Jets CEO Brad Wolens said he rated the 2008 Jets team ahead of this year's because it contained more "grunt" and aggression up the middle with the likes of Sweeney in it.
But Shane Walker does not think Sweeney, who won the club's best and fairest award in 2007-08, will find it easy to regain his standing at the club.
"It is good news he's coming back," he said.
"But he'll find since he left that things have moved on.
"He'll have his work cut out getting a spot in the side."
The Walkers value hard work ahead of overt aggression in his forwards.
"I wouldn't change our squad," Shane said.
"Having mongrel, all that gets you is a few more penalties against you.
"The blokes we've got get the job done without any crap in their games."