Tasmanian skipper TJ Pieters has branded next week’s clash with South Australia as a “huge opportunity” for the Jack Jumpers to make their mark at the 2023 Australian Rugby Shield.
Fresh from a best on ground performance in Launceston’s 62-19 grand final win over Taroona, Pieters is fully focused on bringing the state’s best together for four crunch matches at Brisbane’s Ballymore Stadium.
“We knew all season we had a strong Launceston squad and the drive to make it happen, so it’s exciting to go back-to-back and have a three-peat in our sights,” Pieters said.
“But it’s all about Tassie now … and this year’s a huge opportunity for our squad.
“2022 was a bit of a stepping stone with the past few years missed due to COVID, so I think we’re in a good position to build on last year’s performance – especially coming up against South Australia, which is a game we’ll really be targeting.”
Pieters is under no illusions about Tasmania’s standing against the likes of Pool B rivals Perth Gold and NSW Country but says the Jack Jumpers boast more firepower in 2023.
“Life doesn’t get any easier for us with Perth and NSW but we’ve got some exciting players coming through that I’m keen to see in action.”
“Ali Lameta is going to add plenty up front and he’s such a good person to have in the team – always good for a laugh – and Peni (Vea) is a monster in the centres.
“They’ll add a bit to our running game we probably lacked last year, so it’s good to link up with those NW boys and also a lot of those Taroona boys down south.
“(Launceston and Taroona) played each other four times this year, so we know each other’s game quite well and we’ve been able to click straight away playing alongside each other.”
The Jack Jumpers have also established a GoFundMe to help support travel expenses for the Tasmanian squad – available here.