Season 2015 was a huge disappointment for the Newtown Jets and their faithful supporters. The Jets posed as one of the bigger threats with a talented roster but failed to fire and missed out on the finals for the second straight season. In 2016, not only does the side owe it to themselves to strike as a potent threat but also to their die-hard fan base yearning for success.
With a stack of talent added to the roster, there is no reason for the Jets not to hit the ground running. Jaline Graham ignited the Canterbury Bulldogs to the preliminary finals and is determined to carry his form for similar results to Newtown. Arana Taumata could be the surprise packet of the season if his off-field troubles are finally put to bed. For Newtown, this season will be about mind over matter and how hungry the team is for success.
Off-season focus: Missing the finals left a bitter taste for Newtown. Consistency was the Jets' biggest weakness last season. With the finals series out of reach, their best performance of 2015 came in their final match of the season defeating the red-hot North Sydney Bears at home and there’s no reason they can’t sustain this effort. The word around Newtown is attitude at training has been improved. Coach Greg Matterson claims the sense of comfort has been removed from the club with a new group of guys and a fresh start.
Biggest gain: Jaline Graham could be the signing of the year. The dynamo is a ball-playing genius with a running game the toast of the town. Electric on his feet, Graham will inject a new breath of life into the Jets' backline with fans anticipating his every play.
Toughest loss: Ray Moujalli was an adored figure in Newtown. Playing more than 100 games for the Jets, he was a reliable fixture of the forwards. While his departure may have unsettled fans, it’s the signal of the dawn of a new era for Newtown.
Coach Matterson says: “Our goal is to play semi-final football which we haven't done for the last two years. Our major aim is to turn up to training each week, train hard and turn up to the game as well as for each other. We're trying to build a nice work and spirit in the environment. Ninety per cent of this squad could play NRL. It's about opportunity when it comes, playing at your best and consistency.”
Our prediction: While we can predict the sky for the Jets, it’s up to the side to translate their talent into success on the field. All signs point to rejuvenated and motivated Jets side, desperate to give their ever-loyal fans something to celebrate. It may take time but if the Jets find a way to gel and bring all the ingredients to fruition on the field, then the sky is the limit. The Jets have something prove – expect a big showing with a long-awaited finals berth.
Comings and goings
Gains: Jesse Sene Lefao (Manly Sea Eagles), Josh Cleeland (Ipswich Jets), Brett Anderson (Illawarra Cutters), Ben Jones (Mackay Cutters), Arana Taumata (Tumut, South Newcastle), Tevita Vaea (New Zealand Warriors), Jaline Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs)
Losses: Blake Ayshford (New Zealand Warriors), Ray Moujalli (Canterbury Bulldogs), Andrew Pearn (Wentworthville Magpies).