AFTER two years out of Intrust Super Cup finals contention, co-coach Shane Walker says the Ipswich Jets are hungrier than ever to arrest the trend entering the 2018 season.
"It's terrible, the last two years have been (awful). With a week to go and having nothing to play for, that's unfamiliar territory for the Jets,” Mr Walker said.
"It's not something we're comfortable with - it's not something we want.
"That's why we're working so hard now, to make sure that doesn't happen again.”
The Jets have "turned up the dial” on their pre-season preparations, and all signs are trending upward at the perfect time ahead of a blockbuster round one clash in PNG on March 11.
"We've made pre-season a lot tougher than we have in the past. The boys are looking really good, everyone has ripped in,” Mr Walker said.
"It doesn't matter what we've dished up so far in terms of load or intensity. There's been no whinging, it's been head down, bum up - really positive.”
But simply getting back to finals football will not satisfy the co-coach or his players.
"We're not only hungry about making finals, but winnings finals,” he said.
Litmus tests do not come much better than a first-up clash against the reigning premiers on their home patch.
"In our opinion, there's no better time to play PNG than in round one in Port Moresby,” Mr Walker said.
"The climate is the same all year round. It's hot.
"When you go there in June or July, we leave here at 12 degrees and get off the plane to play them at 35 degrees, in 98 per cent humidity.
"Sometimes it can affect you, even the week after.
"We can't wait to go up there. Obviously they're last year's benchmark. We're looking forward to getting into them.”
Walker admitted he and brother Ben are far from having a round one line-up "set in stone”, but he has been impressed with what has been put on display by the 40-strong player group so far.
"We want to see guys perform well, compete hard and use their skills,” he said.
"There were a number of boys that put their hands up for selection.”
The boys jetted off to New Zealand in the lead up to the 2018 Super Intrust Super Cup to put what they have learnt in practice into action.
They played New Zealand sides Ponsonby Ponies, Bray Roskill Vikings and Howick Hornets in separate exhibition matches at Mount Smart Stadium.