Report: JEFF STEPHENSON

IT’S no good lamenting what might have been.

All the “what ifs” in the world won’t change reality and the reality is that after two matches Redland Bombers are 0-2 and while both losses have been highly respectable – is there such a thing as a respectable loss? – they are losses nonetheless.

Jack Rolls knows well and good the truism of the above statement.

The 19-year-old “veteran” – can a 19-year-old be termed a veteran? – says it’s been a bit unfortunate the way the team has started, but, by the same token, expects things to turn around.

And as he says the only way any transformation can take place is by an improved and more sustained effort.

“Yeah, we’ve played well at times,” he said pointing to the club’s opening clashes against Southport and Sydney University.

“But we must start getting wins on the board.”

This week’s clash with Canberra Demons at Scottsdale Park presents the Bombers with that very opportunity, but as Jack says, it can only happen with every player playing their part.

“Everyone knows how important this match is,” Jack said.

“It’s in the back of our minds.

“But, more importantly, we all need to be focusing on our roles.

“We know what we need to do and now is the time for all of us to get out there and do it.”

Those very comments illustrate why the youngster is regarded as a veteran.

He’s only played 16 matches with the Bombers and another 11 with the Brisbane Lions NEAFL side when he was part of the Academy, but he prepares himself and more importantly he plays like a veteran.

Jack attacks the ball like there is no tomorrow.

He is the up and under, inside, hard-at-it, take-no-prisoners midfielder who wins the hard ball, loves the contest and breaks the game open with his ferocity and determination.

So yes, we can call him a “veteran” because despite his youth he plays for all the world as though he is one.

And he’s also one for setting some historical benchmarks in the NEAFL.

He was this week honoured by earning the latest Tribal Sport NEAFL Rising Star nomination, which has created a nice piece of history for the youngster as it is his fourth nomination in four years and no-one else in the competition has been come anywhere near achieving such status.

Not that Jack is dwelling on it too much.

“I wasn’t aware I was eligible,” he said.

After receiving the first of his nominations, he was 16 and playing with the Lions, he was eying off the prospect of being taken in the draft.

It never happened and it’s fair to say he was a tad disappointed.

After all, being drafted was what he yearned.

“It was all I was looking at for a couple of years.

“When it didn’t happen, well, it was pretty shattering at times.”

He might even tell you he moped a little – might have kicked the cat had there been one close by.

But he showed his class by getting back on track quickly and when he got the call to join coach Leigh Harding and others he already knew at the Bombers he quickly responded in the affirmative.

Last season – his first with his new club – started disastrously when a knee injury suffered in a pre-season match required an operation and delayed the start to his season by four weeks.

But the prolific ball-winner quickly slipped into gear.

He was ranked second highest at the club in average Champion Data ranking points and at season’s end he won the Oxley/Thomas Medal as the Bombers’ Rising Star.

Jack said there were times last year he found it hard and he learned a lot very quickly as the season unfolded.

Even after two matches to date he says he’s now “a lot more comfortable at NEAFL level”.

“I’m really enjoying playing my footy at Redlands.”

One factor which has opened his eyes has been the contribution and perseverance of former skipper Tom Salter, who missed all last season because of a knee reconstruction.

“Having Salts back is massive for us.

“His leadership was really missed last year.”

Okay, I’ll come clean. Jack didn’t just say Salts, he said “old Salts”.

“Well, he’s 28 now so he’s one of the old boys,” Jack said.

We think it’s okay for Jack to say that, as he is – well he plays like – a veteran.

So yes, it is okay.

It is – isn’t it Salts?

GO BOMBERS

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