IT wasn’t only winning and giving his squad a workout that pleased Jets Colts coach Chris Ash.
It was his team’s improved fitness and regional school talent that has the former Jets and Brothers A-Grade footballer excited about the competition starting after Easter.
The Jets team beat the Western Mustangs 34-20 in Saturday’s trial, which was a curtainraiser to the Ipswich Indigenous All Stars v Ipswich All Stars gala match.
With his team leading comfortably 22-4 at halftime, Ash gave everyone a run after the break.
“We’re pretty happy,” the St Peter Claver College teacher said.
“Our first half was really good today.”
In his first pre-season as head coach, Ash ran a group of 13 players for 40 minutes.
“I just wanted to give the boys a lot of minutes,” he said.
Twenty players in the squad received valuable game time.
The Jets Colts have another trial against Norths in a fortnight before kicking off their 14-team competition after Easter.
Giving Ash added satisfaction is seeing promising footballers combining from regional schools like Ipswich State High, St Peter Claver College and Bremer State High.
“We’ve got some very handy footballers, some very skilful footballers,” he said.
“Big, strong, skilful and smart so the size I’m not worried about.
“With the new rules – under 21s going for 80 minutes for this age with six to go – you don’t want a big pack.”
Ash said having a good mix of players from schools and junior clubs in Ipswich and the country provided a balanced side.
While he is yet to finalise his captain and leadership group, Ash sees immense potential in his side.
“We’ve got a couple of really good young kids so I’m tossing up whether to put a few in the leadership group and pick from there,” he said.
The Jets Colts have 32 players contracted in a squad of 35 to cover for injuries.
The locally-based players not required for Jets Colts duty each week during the season can play for their local clubs while the country kids can join the Rosewood Jets side.
Ash said the Jets Colts were benefiting from an ongoing program by club strength and fitness coach Jonathan Dore.
The valuable member of the Jets organisation has received some recent assistance from former Queensland Times journalist turned fitness instructor Jay Buchan.
“That’s what I’m happy with – for the boys to play 40 (minutes) straight, through our middles,” Ash said of seeing his young guns battle hard for extended periods.
“That’s one thing I’ve really worked hard on this pre-season.”
Buchan has been running the strength and conditioning sessions with Dore for the past six weeks.
“He’s really good to have around. He helps the players,” Ash said.
Ash is also being aided by Jets stalwarts Josh Seage (assistant coach) and trainers Sam Martin and Dan Coburn.