State Cup 2016: Aaron Ison and Port Macquarie eye mixed open's title success

PORT Macquarie are not daunted by the prospect of facing former NRL star Jamie Soward on day two of this year’s NSW State Cup.

Soward will run around for the Wagga Wagga Vipers.

“We should face them on Saturday some time so it will be a good experience to play against an NRL player,” Ison said.

“But he’s just another player, we haven’t really thought about it too much.”

The captain has high hopes for his side after they were seeded fourth out of 32.

“It’s a pretty good achievement for a country team and we’re hopeful of getting through to the top six on Sunday,” he said.

Port Macquarie were eliminated in the quarter finals at last year’s event and that will provide a motivating factor this year.

“Last year we fell a bit short to where we wanted to,” Ison said.

“We got knocked out in the quarter finals where things went against us a little bit but this year Easts and Murwillumbah are the two strongest teams who we will need to beat.”

If the Makos are to progress to finals day on Sunday, it will require everyone to chip in.

Ison said they do not feel any added pressure of being arguably Port Macquarie’s best chance of claiming silverware in 2016.

He is one of a handful of remaining members along with Jasmine Wilbow and Katie Kelly which won the mixed open title in 2012.

“It’s a pretty strong team, probably the best we can field,” Ison said.

“Nick Bale is one of our stronger boys, then there’s the girls who have been with the team since 2012 but it’s hard to pinpoint everyone because everyone has a role to play.”

Ison will use the experience he gained from playing with Australia a couple of years ago to his advantage, but he knows he is only one player in a team sport.

“I don’t read too much into that,” he said.

“Everybody that I’ve had anything to do with in representing Australia has come back as a better player and I’m no different.

“But it’s always a team effort, so the girls do as good of a job as the boys and there’s no one player that’s better than everyone else.

“We just play different roles.”

Ison was confident his side was well placed for a run at the mixed open title again in 2016.

“I’ve been with this team for four years and it is as strong as any I’ve been in.”

Ison felt privileged to don the blue, white and black at a home event.

“It’s good to represent your town and community in something like a State Cup, but I don’t know how long it will stay here for.”

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