The Savige Pest Control Ipswich Jets announced a player pathway partnership with the nib Newcastle Knights.
Club Chairman Steven Johnson said that this is exciting news for the Club and city after the Jets being the only Australian second tier club out an NRL affiliation. He said that this fractured the player pathway in Ipswich and had resulted in many locals being forced to leave the city to follow their rugby league dreams.
With NRL expansion on the back burner and by 2026 Ipswich and the surrounding areas forecast to be home to over 19,000 players (considerably more than Brisbane) the Jets felt that it was essential for the betterment of the game that they find a player pathway partner where an Ipswich boy could go from juniors to the NRL without him having to leave home until he has finished school and is ready to relocate.
Johnson said that the seed for the partnership was planted when there was a suggestion that the Knights may relocate to Ipswich and whilst both clubs dismissed that immediately a union of two of the games heartlands made very good senseas Newcastle is really Ipswich by the sea!
In Johnson’s view the partnership will be a boom for Ipswich given the shared values of the two clubs about the importance of the person not just the player, both being regional blue collar areas where kids don’t get lost in a big city, and neither being focused on winning age competitions but creating an environment for players to be better.
Importantly Johnson said that the pathway is a vertical pathway with players being able to play for the Knights but with no Knights players dropping back to play in the Intrust Super Cup and take opportunities away from our own players to looked at by the Knights .
The Jets Head Coach Keiron Lander added that no boy ever aspires to play in the NRL for money but all do to have the chance to run onto the field and this pathway will now give our boys that opportunity.
Lander said that he is excited about being able to work with Adam O’Brian and the Knights’ coaching staff and bring that knowledge back to not just the Jets but the Ipswich clubs.
Richard Hughes the Jets CEO said both the Ipswich Jets and the Newcastle Knights will work together to develop welfare educational and vocational programmes to benefit players and the game generally as well as working on shared commercial opportunities so as to better fund the game in Ipswich.
Gary Parker the chairman of Rugby League Ipswich stressed the importance of the pathway to maintain the growth and standard of rugby league of the Ipswich club competition as in its absence many of the best players leave Ipswich before playing senior football and young players who aren’t signed by NRL Clubs have little incentive to play in the Ipswich club competition and many drop out of the game.
The Newcastle Knights are as enthusiastic about partnership as the Jets. Phil Gardner the Knights CEO said that the Knights see this as an opportunity to help the development of young players in Queensland and that this work will not take away from the hard work that the Knights are doing in the Hunter Valley heartland or take away the chance for one of their locals to make it into the NRL.
Gardner said that both the Knights and the Jets appreciate the importance that young players be encouraged to remain in the game and be developed and reach their potential without having to leave home staying in their family environment under their parents’ control. He said that Ipswich boys will now have that opportunity and play in the NRL for the Knights.
Gardner added that the Knights have a very strong fan base in Queensland and that the club will now be able to have a direct connection with their fans through the Jets including their NRL stars being involved in local development work.
About the Ipswich Jets
The Jets are the premiere sports club in Ipswich fielding teams in the elite statewide competitions in Rugby League and Netball. In 2015 the Jets were the best Rugby League team outside of the NRL winning the Intrust Super Cup and the NRL State Championship.
About the Newcastle Knights
The Knights field teams in the NRL national competition and in the NSW statewide competitions. The Knights were the Premiers in the 1997 ARL competition and the 2000 NRL competition and proudly represent the Hunter region home to some of the game’s greatest players.
For more information contact:
Name: Richard Hughes
Ph: 07 3202 1887