Boof back for highland jink

Titans foundation player Anthony Laffranchi made a comeback last weekend in the most extraordinary venue of his career that includes three years with St Helens in England.

‘Boofa’ strapped the boots to help PNG side Waghi Tumbe, based in the Mt Hagen highlands region, in their first match in the Digicell national league for 13 seasons.

Laffranchi, in Auckland with the team as a trainer, spent a week in Mt Hagen as part of an initiative for Titans4Tomorrow alongside former Titans teammates Luke Bailey and Preston Campbell who helped coach the side.

He had planned to play 40 minutes but ended up being out there for 75! “I got through OK,” said the former second-rower/prop whose previous game was with St Helens in the UK Super League semi-finals last September.

“They play pretty physically up there but it was a great week and a real eye opener. The team is set up where they live in a compound and train hard and get fed three good meals a day and that’s the incentive to be committed.”

THERE was a proud Titans contingent at the dawn service at the Auckland cenotaph this morning, including Vietnam veteran Darrell Madge who will lead the team onto the field today, skipper Nate Myles, coaches Neil Henry and Terry Matterson and general manager of football Scott Clark.

There were an estimated around 25,000 who visited the monument for a stirring service to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

The night before at the team’s hotel both the NRL and NYC steams witnessed a presentation to Madge for his service in Vietnam and to Gold Coast rugby league as a member of the backroom staff since the Giants were launched in 1988.

He was given a plaque which read in part: “A man worthy of our respect, admiration and friendship.”

THE under-20s team had its backs to the wall before the players landed in Auckland on Friday evening.

Jed Cartwright (calf) and Oshea Tuiasau (ankle) were injured in the final training session on Thursday evening . Too early to determine how bad the injuries were, both travelled to New Zealand with centre Brett Stratton going as 18th man.

Unfortunately Cartwright and Stratton were both ruled out so coach Ben Woolf could take only 16 fit players into the match.

The fact they were playing at 9.40am and arrived at the ground at 8am (6am on the Gold Coast) made their preparation more difficult, as did the fact that Kiwis Parahi Wilson, Christian Mika and Delayne Ashby missed the last two sessions because they returned to Auckland early to attend funerals.

THE Warriors have undoubtedly become the Titans' bogey team, but what better time to reverse the trend than on ANZAC Day in New Zealand.

We have to go back to 2010 to recall the last victory against the Auckland-based side (they have won all eight games since). And it was 2009 when we tasted the last win in Auckland, a 30-10 thrashing. 

TRIVIA: What two current Titans players were involved in the club’s first victory in 2007?

PREVIOUS ANSWER: The longest serving Australian coach in the English Super League is Tony Smith, now at Warrington. He began at Huddersfield in 2000.