Culture the key at Jets
HOW the Ipswich Jets go this season remains to be seen.
But they have got one of the most important ingredients for success in place.
"Everyone's happy," injured Jets captain Keiron Lander said.
"It's a lot different from where it was three years ago, getting the wooden spoon, to what is now a good place."
The reason for the turn around is simple.
"I think it is having the right people," the 24-year-old skipper said.
"Ben and Shane (Walker) have worked hard with the blokes we had.
"Now we've got the leadership group, the coaches and everyone working together makes it a bit easier."
It wasn't the case in 2010 when the Jets ran last, players walked out on the club and coach Glenn Lazarus lost the support of a large portion of the playing group.
Lazarus' assistants, the Walkers, took over and immediately set about righting the culture from within.
"A few blokes didn't work with the way we wanted things," Lander said.
"We had leadership qualities in blokes like Lace (Ian Lacey), BL (Brendon Lindsay), Riggsy (Todd Riggs) and Boettch (Adam Boettcher).
"And they're good blokes as well, which helps when new blokes come in and can fit in straight away."
There are no hidden agendas or cliques, which gives players the confidence that they will be treated with respect and teams will be picked on merit.
"The good thing about it is that everyone's got a voice and everything is out in the open," Lander said.
"There is a lot of trust there.
"You can go to the coaches and say you're not keen on this or can we do something differently?"
It has given players a sense of ownership in the club, which breeds loyalty.
Lander, who spent two years with the North Queensland Cowboys before joining the Jets, has been at clubs where there were cliques along lines of seniority and race.
The Jets, with at least nine different cultures represented, have got the formula right.
"I've been in big systems where blokes didn't even get a say and you feel uncomfortable going to senior players," Lander said.
"With the guys here it is unbelievable how everyone gets along.
"As long as there is respect for each other's cultures players get along really easily."
All of which is good in theory, but the Jets showed how it works in practice last year, going from last to semi-finalists.
If Lander is right 2012 should see the Jets take further strides up the ladder.
"It's amazing how far we've come from three years ago," he said.
"Ben and Shane said they've already picked 10 different sides (that could be the top 17 for round one).
"We've always had quality players, but Ben and Shane have got the best out of them."