Jets' premiership a huge boost for Ipswich
It's hard to believe that the Ipswich Jets, a club responsible for producing some of Queensland's finest playing talents, had never won a major competition – until now.
Before claiming their maiden premiership in Sunday's 32-20 Intrust Super Cup grand final win over the Townsville Blackhawks, the Jets had only made four deciders since forming in 1982.
Since the fledging years under the coaching of Tommy Raudonikis – with players such as Allan Langer and Kevin and Kerrod Walters, to the present era under Ben and Shane Walker – the Jets have been a club that can produce rocks or diamonds.
For a proud town with such an esteemed rugby league history stretching back over 100 years, Ipswich were perennial underachievers in both the Brisbane Rugby League and Queensland Cup competitions.
Now having delivered a long overdue title to the Jets on the back of some highly entertaining and unconventional football, the Walker boys have reinvigorated a community that had always craved to translate their passion for game into on-field success.
"We've never won a premiership and when you don’t win a premiership for so long there's an underlying acceptance that you're not a winner," Jets' co-coach Shane Walker said.
"[A winner] is what this club needed to become and it's taken a little while but we've got there."
Back-to-back defeats in the 1988 and 1989 BRL grand finals combined with losses in the 2002 and 2008 Queensland Cup deciders placed greater significance on Sunday's victory over the Blackhawks according to Ben Walker.
"It means a lot to the Ipswich people – we've been beaten in four finals and never won one so it's a big thing for the city," he said.
"The support we were getting around the city not only this week but throughout the year has been really encouraging and they were desperate for us to win."
Sunday's win took on a special meaning for departing Jets hooker Matt Parcell, with the Ipswich-born rake paying special tribute to mentors Ben and Shane Walker and retiring skipper Keiron Lander.
"It'll probably sink in a few days but I really wanted to win for the team and Keiron who is a leader and a big part of the club," said Parcell, who will leave the Jets to join the Manly Sea Eagles on a three-year deal from next season.
"This club has done everything for me. I turned up to Colts as a 17-year-old and I can't thank Ben and Shane enough. They've brought me through and it's unbelievable to finish on this note."
After winning over the Queensland rugby league public, Parcell is now relishing the opportunity to showcase the Jets' eye-catching style of football on a national stage in the Interstate Championship on NRL Grand Final day.
The Northern Pride took out the inaugural championship against the Penrith Panthers last season and Parcell hopes the Jets can produce the goods against VB NSW Cup champions Newcastle Knights.
"We've got one more game in Sydney and we're going down there to win," he said.
"Come Tuesday at training we will focus again because we want to put in a good display down there.
"To go to Sydney and play on the biggest stage in front of pretty much all of Australia will be unbelievable."