THE Ipswich Jets will be without one of their best from recent seasons, with Jacob Ling heading south to link up with the St George Illawarra Dragons.
He will begin with Dragons feeder club Illawarra Steelers as he recovers from recent shoulder surgery.
"I'm looking forward to a new challenge," Ling said from Wollongong where he was looking for a place to live.
"But it will be sad to leave the club."
In his three seasons at the Jets, the Newcastle product proved himself one of the club's most reliable forwards.
But after training with the Gold Coast Titans in the 2010 pre-season and trialling with them once, nothing further eventuated.
So when the Dragons came knocking, Ling was eager to grasp the opportunity.
"I got a call out of the blue," Ling said of his two-year contract with St George Illawarra.
"I wouldn't have thought about leaving Ipswich if I hadn't.
"It made me sit up and listen.
"I'm not getting any younger and opportunities like that don't come along too often."
Ling harbours no animosity towards the Titans, despite their lack of interest.
"That's just the way things go," he said.
Ling credits the Jets with turning him into a footballer ready for the NRL challenge.
"Definitely they've helped my game improve in all aspects," the skilful ball-playing forward said.
"I've had to mature as a player a bit.
"It is a credit to the Walker boys for their help.
"I saw this as an opportunity but I couldn't speak more highly of the Jets.
"This is my last shot at it (making it in the NRL).
"If it doesn't work out, so be it.
"I've got no regrets."
Ling knows he will be at a disadvantage to most of his team-mates, missing most of the pre-season due to his shoulder.
But he has been told performance will be rewarded.
"They pretty much told me there's a new coach so if you are the best in the team, they'll pick you," Ling said.
"If the opportunity comes, they'll give you a shot. I'm not after any promises."
Ling will not be lacking any motivation.
Being completely removed from his comfort zone means he will do all he can to impress.
"You go down there and no-one knows anything about you," he said.
"You've got to prove yourself from the word go."
The Jets have also lost the services of prop Trevor Exton who has joined Norths Devils for 2012.
However, the Jets have announced the signing of 2011 Queensland Cup player of the year, former Norths fullback Jarvan White.
He will be joined by prop Mark Appleton, formerly on the books with the Canberra Raiders, and forward Ethan Tafili.
Tafili is a former Ipswich junior who has returned after three years with the Wests Tigers.
Date of birth: October 2, 1987
Position: Second row
Junior clubs: West Newcastle
First senior club: Newcastle Knights
Representative history: New South Wales U17s and U19s
Footy hero: Paul Harragon
Favourite music: RnB, Top 40
Favourite food: Steak
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