NRL.com | Ipswich invasion hits NRL
By NRL.com's Tony Webeck
The Ipswich revolution is coming to an NRL club near you.
A breeding ground most famous for the Walters brothers and Allan Langer, Ipswich products are again set to flood the NRL with almost half of the team that started the State Championship Final against Newcastle on grand final day now snapped up by NRL clubs.
"The Intrust Super Cup has been a bit of a hidden gem," says Channel Nine Intrust Super Cup commentator and former NRL great Scott Sattler.
"There have been a lot of people that have known there have been talented rugby league players up here but it has taken the strength of the Intrust Super Cup and winning two State Championships for people to sit up and take a lot of notice.
"It's great to see players moving down to NRL clubs but it will be terrible to see if they end up playing in the NSW Cup which is a weaker competition than Intrust.
"And the best thing is they're not spring chickens. They're not guys that are 17 or 18 years of age. It's proving to a lot of rugby league players out there that have been told for many years that at 21 or 23 you're too old and that's not the case."
Back-rower Kurt Capewell was the latest signing, agreeing to join five-eighth Josh Cleeland at the Sharks.
It's an astonishing endorsement of the playing style employed by the Walker brothers who must now embark on a new search for further players they can develop into first-graders.
NRL.com asked Sattler for his appraisal of the Jets ready to take off in 2016.
See Sattler's take on the Sharks signings below!
Josh Cleeland (Sharks)
In commentary during the State Championship Final Panthers CEO Phil Gould intimated that the club was close to penning a deal with the Ipswich five-eighth but the Sharks swept in with a better offer that will see the 24-year-old in the Shire for the next year at least.
His path to first grade is currently blocked by James Maloney, Chad Townsend and Jack Bird but the leader for line-break assists and try assists in the Intrust Super Cup this season obviously has qualities that the Sharks coaching staff admire.
Sattler says: "Defensively outstanding, he adjusts in defence really, really well. If you've got a really dynamic No.6 or No.7 with a bit of spontaneity or flair, Josh Cleeland is the guy that will keep the whole team heading in the same direction. He's going to be a guy who if you have injuries or around Origin time will be a ready-made fix, a little bit like Sam Williams at Canberra."
Kurt Capewell (Sharks)
A towering centre who made a stunning transition to rangy back-rower in 2015, Capewell has signed a two-year deal at Cronulla after shunning interest to join the Broncos under-20s system four years ago in order to develop his game against men in the Intrust Super Cup.
Having now proven himself at the senior level with Ipswich he is ready for the next step.
Sattler says: "When you talk about prototypes that a lot of NRL clubs are looking for, 6-foot-2, big rangy build, a really good change of direction, he can kick, he can pass, he's got all the tricks of the trade. It's just about him now getting into a system that thinks run before pass. He's got the perfect build to be a back-rower and I expect pretty big things from Kurt Capewell."