Reliable Neale leads the way
ALL day, every day.
Those are the words Nat Neale writes on his arm before each game for the Ipswich Jets as a reminder of what he needs to do.
It is working well.
In just about every match this season so far, Jets' Queensland Cup co-coaches Shane and Ben Walker have singled the big forward out for praise.
The coaches are delighted because they know in Neale they have an 80-minutes-a-game, high-quality worker.
"Any time I get is good time," Neale said.
"I just do my thing and hope for the best.
"I try to get into it and do some work - get some metres, make some tackles and not make any mistakes."
It is a simple formula that's working well.
Neale impressed in his debut season last year, but this year, secure in the regard his coaches hold him in, he is showing his best form.
"I'm more established so I don't have to try too hard," Neale said.
"I just have to try to keep my position in the team.
"It's like a family now."
It was different from last season when the Walkers, in their first year in charge, had everyone on notice as they planned ahead.
Then Neale was looking for a shot at redemption after a two-year contract with the New Zealand Warriors came to nothing.
"I'm just hoping for the best," he said. "Hoping someone notices me."
The Jets' current predicament with one win from five isn't helping.
If the team's form had been poor, Neale would be standing out, but it isn't.
Alternatively, if the Jets were top of the ladder, everyone would have noticed.
So it is no surprise what is top of Neale's priority list at the moment.
"I'd love a few wins," he said.
"I hate losing. We're due."
The Jets take on cellar-dwellers Burleigh at North Ipswich tomorrow, giving the Jets the chance to kick-start their season with a second win.
"It's only been a couple of things (preventing us winning more)," Neale said.
"Our mistakes are letting teams in.
"We're not getting beaten. We're beating ourselves."
Neale can play either as a front or second rower but is being used as the latter at the moment, working around the edge of the ruck, rather than up the middle.
If he has any frustrations, they are that the quietly-spoken Kiwi doesn't get his hands on the ball as often as he'd like.
"I'm not really one for talking on the field," he said.
"I do by actions. But I'd like to get more runs under my belt.
"I need to be more demanding for the ball."