Hunters hit as hard as NRL: Jacks
He was minutes away from guiding the Sunshine Coast Falcons to a maiden Intrust Super Cup title and now Ryley Jacks has revealed just how physical a contest with the PNG Hunters is, saying his opponents hit just has hard as those in the NRL.
Jacks, who has played 12 games for the Melbourne Storm in the NRL Telstra Premiership this year, was in the firing line, suffering a head knock late in the grand final as he tried to stop Willie Minoga from scoring the match-winning try.
His efforts were unsuccessful and that incident was compounded by the fact he had to play much of the game with a dislocated finger.
Despite these setbacks, the 25-year-old was one of the best in a beaten team, having a hand in two tries to give Sunshine Coast a 10-0 lead after seven minutes.
But it was not enough, with PNG's physical style of play getting them over the line just as it looked like the trophy was heading the Falcons' way.
Speaking to NRL.com after the disappointing loss, Jacks detailed the physicality of the contest, saying it was just as tough as an NRL match.
"They run just as hard as the boys in the top level, without a doubt. The physicality of Queensland Cup compared to NRL is very similar," Jacks said.
"The only difference is the speed. I've noticed that this year. Just the speed in the NRL is the next step up, but physically those PNG Hunters boys are the hardest people I've ever had to tackle.
"It's just so physical. It doesn't get any tougher than playing a grand final against PNG."
Losing a grand final should not take any gloss off the year Jacks has had, with the lively half rising through the ranks at the Storm to be a serious contender for the No.7 jersey that will become vacant when Cooper Cronk leaves the club at season's end.
The taste of first grade has him wanting more and he will be doing all he can in the off-season to improve as a player.
"I look back at 2017 pretty fondly," Jacks said.
"This has been an unreal year for me. Just to play NRL was a highlight, and then making it to a grand final was just as good.
"Even though we lost today. I'm stoked on my year. I'll be back next year and hopefully we can go one better."