Why Joe is a top catch for Ipswich
IPSWICH Force newcomer Joe Owens loves the challenge of luring for fish in creeks.
Having grown up in Townsville, the fishing fanatic has enjoyed being "spoilt for choice'' when it comes to his relaxation time on the water.
However, it's his ability to bounce back from a break that shows how much the former Australian under-19 basketballer welcomes a challenge.
After two seasons in the state league with Townsville, Owens felt a need to get away from higher level basketball.
He piled on more than 30kg in 2016 while playing in the local competition and working full-time in an irrigation shop "which was tough because they had water restrictions''.
However, after restoring his higher level ambitions, Owens changed his diet, ran a lot and worked hard to lose the same amount of weight he put on.
He believes the time away was beneficial.
"I think I got better in my time off to be honest,'' he said.
"That year I lost interest really for multiple reasons, just confidence-wise and all that.''
Chatting to the power forward now, it's easy to see the transformation.
He's looking fit with his 204cm frame ready to again meet the demands of returning to the Queensland Basketball League.
Owens, 21, is currently staying with Force captain Jason Ralph in Ipswich.
The pair played in the Queensland under-20 team that came second at the 2014 national championships.
"He works hard and keeps everybody honest,'' Owens said of Ralph. "He just makes the team better.''
Owens also knows Ralph's fiancee Georgia, another Townsville product who joined the Force program and made Ipswich her new home.
The Force recruit welcomed the opportunity to link with Ralph and other Force players in the QBL after becoming an NBL development player with the Townsville Crocodiles.
He previously worked with former NBL player and Crocodiles assistant coach and later Cairns Taipans mentor Mike Kelly.
"I had some awesome opportunities with him,'' Owens said, disappointed that the development focus stalled when Kelly left.
Owens has also represented Australia twice.
He was chosen in the Australian under-19 Emus team that contested the 2013 Oceania Pacific Games in New Zealand.
"It was great. Just everything. Just seeing a different country and seeing a range of things,'' he said.
A year later, he was called up to join an Australian Select Allstars team that played in China, on a tour organised by Andrew Gaze.
However, his focus this year is helping the new-look Force team improve and see what it can achieve.
"Everything I've seen, we are expected to fight for the woodenspoon,'' he said.
"We don't see it that way, which is good. We want to win.
"I don't think we are going to be very far off many teams at all.''
Ipswich's 2018 QBL opener is against Cairns at Ipswich stadium on April 28.
Owens said fans could expect to see a whole-hearted team performance from Force this year.
"It's an opportunity where I can get to play with a good group of guys and try and create something special,'' he said.
And enjoy fishing some new locations in between helping Ipswich.
Most enjoyable part of basketball: "The game as a whole. It's constantly challenging you. It's constantly teaching you things and most of the life lessons I've learnt have really been through basketball. It can take multiple places and show you things.''
Toughest part: "Being a bigger guy, I'm always sore. The impact on your body sometimes. But it's manageable.''