The Titans have three international players with a difference within their ranks. Football club staffer Kieren Wiggins and high performance unit members Jonah and Payne Haas recently joined NRL stars Matt Srama and Kevin Gordon as having worn the Philippines national jersey.
While many fans think rugby league is restricted to those nations that compete in the World Cup, there is a movement to encourage participation in other regions such as Asia with the Philippines at the forefront.
Australian-based national sides played Thailand select teams last year and last month went up against Latin Heat, as well as competing in an international Nines tournament in Sydney a fortnight ago, with both Philippine teams making the semi-finals.
Meanwhile in Manilla, a touch football competition has been launched with a view to converting players into the 13-a-side code as soon as possible.
Wiggins was man of the match after scoring two tries for the under-23s side against Latin Heat while Jonah Haas, 17, was the youngest member of the squad. The Philippines teams are called the Tamaraws.
“To run out in international footy and put on the jersey representing your mother’s country was just amazing,” said Kieren.
The squad had trained since October and came together for a camp in Brisbane in January. Payne Haas, 16, was presented with his jersey by Srama and Gordon which he said was a “massive honour”.
“It was an awesome experience to put on an international jersey and represent my father’s heritage,” said Jonah. “It was privilege and such an honour to receive my jersey from two respected Titans.”
Payne scored four tries and was man of the match in the under-16s match.
PICTURED (from left): Payne Haas, Kieren Wiggins and Jonah Haas.