'Let us play Auckland Nines and we'll win it'
THE IPSWICH Jets want to play in the Auckland Nines.
And they reckon they could win it if they did.
That is why Jets chairman Steve Johnson approached the NRL two years ago when the Nines competition kicked off to ask if the Jets could field a side.
The request was denied.
But when you take a look at the players lining up in the Nines this weekend it is instructive that five of last year's Intrust Super Cup and NRL State Championship winning team are taking part.
Carlin Anderson (Broncos), Rod Griffin (Tigers), Liam Capewell and Josh Cleeland (Sharks) and Matt Parcell (Sea Eagles) will all line up. Jarrod McInally, of the Bulldogs, is a former Jets player.
Johnson said the Jets could win the Nines if given a chance to play in it because the format was suited to the way the club plays.
He said NRL clubs were focussed in January on "preparing to play a season of very structured rugby league, both in attack and defence, as they need to be".
"They don't want to interrupt that preparation and confuse players with a structure that suits the pace and space of Nines," he said.
"Despite what some think, Jets style is structured and has taken the Walker brothers five years to refine but it is basis is attack with angles with support to create spaces so it suits the open space of Nines.
"The NRL clubs either ignore the Nines format totally and train for their NRL season, or they do training sessions for the nines players to have them adapt to the open spaces on a rugby league field.
"But we play that style of rugby league naturally - an exciting, innovative and attacking brand.
"The way we play rugby league is to create open space. Nine Jets against nine of any other players is not a contest because that is how we play the game."
Johnson said it made sense to open up the Nines to more than top tier clubs.
"We asked the NRL if we could participate when it was first mooted and they said it was an NRL concept and only NRL sides could play in it," Johnson said.
"We had hoped last year that they might change the rules to invite an Intrust Super Cup or NSW Cup side to be part of the Nines.
"If they are going to use the Nines as a novelty to promote rugby league, then surely they need to think outside the NRL and bring in sides that aren't part of the NRL so players get experience and exposure."
So how would the Jets play Nines and why would they win it?
"Think of our affiliate club the Cherbourg Hornets team song .... 'keep the ball in motion rolling forward like the ocean'....that says it all simply and well," he said.
"The NRL clubs who aren't used to defending the rolling ocean would get motion sickness and be unable to stop the unrelenting tide of men in green and white.
"We'd love our side to play in the Nines while Ben and Shane are coaching because that is our style.
"This year there are 10 players who have been coached at the Jets by Ben and Shane at the Nines, so we've got a team there anyway."
While the Nines is scheduled in the pre-season, Johnson said it needed to be moved in the calendar if it was to continue.
"The Nines should not be held in one of the only three weeks NRL clubs can play trials," he said.
" It is a bit of fun to be played at the back end of the year if it is to continue."