Walker unfazed by Jets record against PNG
Ipswich Jets co-coach Ben Walker believes any one of his players can pose a threat to the PNG Hunters ahead of Sunday's Intrust Super Cup preliminary final.
Beaten 26-12 by minor premiers Townsville Blackhawks last weekend – which ended their undefeated run of 17 matches – the Hunters will host a red-hot Jets side on neutral territory at Brisbane's Kougari Oval for a place in the 2015 decider.
The Hunters were unable to host the grand final qualifier in Papua New Guinea due to logistical and financial constraints, although hundreds of their fans are expected to flock towards to the home of the Wynnum Manly Seagulls on Sunday afternoon.
Ipswich ended the Easts Tigers' season with an entertaining 44-18 victory last weekend which featured a phenomenal five-try haul to Manly-bound hooker Matt Parcell.
While many of the Jets' players have soared to new heights this season, including the likes of Parcell, Marmin Barba, Carlin Anderson and Rod Griffin, Ben Walker insists the entire Ipswich line-up has the potential to cause the Hunters headaches.
"There are no unsung players in our side; we believe and we know that anyone in our 17 is a threat," Walker told NRL.com.
"Especially with the ball – they can all score and all make the opposition worry so we believe all our players are capable of making a difference."
Walker listed Intrust Super Cup Five-Eighth of the Year Israel Eliab, hooker and 2015 XXXX People's Choice Award winner Wartovo Puara and PNG halfback Ase Boas as the main players the Jets must contain in order to secure their place against the Blackhawks at Suncorp Stadium on September 27.
"I've rattled off their players who are genuine threats but if you look at our side I don't know who isn't a threat," he said.
"We're really comfortable with where we are in the way that we play and obviously with two finals wins under our belt we've got a bit of confidence.
"I don't know how [the Hunters] feel after a loss but I anticipate they'll be better than what they were last week."
The Jets have only one win from four attempts against the Hunters, with their only victory coming in Round 6, 2014.
However, they'll take some serious momentum heading into Sunday's preliminary final on the back of four-straight wins, which have been by an average margin of 24 points.
Into his fifth season as co-coach of the Jets alongside younger brother Shane, the former NRL and Super League half is looking to downplay the Jets' recent string of comprehensive results.
"We're in pretty good form and the last couple of weeks have been good for us but it starts again on Sunday," he said.
"If the Hunters came out after full-time in last weekend's game (against Easts) we'd have momentum, but as it stands now we've got to start again and go through what we do really well."
Despite PNG winning both clashes against the Jets this season, with their most recent victory coming in Round 22 at North Ipswich Reserve, the Jets believe they have what it takes to defeat the fearless Hunters.
"Two of our three losses were up there at Kokopo – they're a tough team but if you look at the losses we've had (against them) there are reasons for that," Walker added.
"When we've played them up there we've debuted players and not been able to take a few players for different reasons.
"We aren't reading into any of the games we previously played against them other than we know we can beat them and we've got the game to beat them.
"We'll take a lot of confidence into the weekend."
In team changes, utility Landon Hayes comes onto the bench for the Jets, while Liam Capewell moves to the centres and Richard Pandia shifts to the wing to cover for the injured Brandon McGrady.
For the Hunters, 2015 Intrust Super Cup Coach of the Year Michael Marum has made two changes to his side with Nickson Borana and Warren Glare replacing Adam Korave and Brandy Peter, while outside back David Lapua and standby halfback Roger Laka have been added to an extended bench.
Sunday's match will kick-off at 3pm with Channel Nine's coverage beginning from 2.30pm across Queensland.