For football manager Anthony Laffranchi, assessing the current model Aquis Titans is like peering through a portal back to the club’s last NRL finals appearance.
“It’s a similar feel. Everyone who’s come here has bought into what the club’s trying to do,” he said.
Laffranchi, who was part of the Wests Tigers side won the club’s only premiership in their sixth season in 2005, was part of an accomplished cohort that steered the Titans into the 2009 and 2010 NRL finals series.
The second-rower/prop was one of the foundation players in 2007, bonding with the likes of Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Nathan Friend, Preston Campbell and Mat Rogers to form a no-frills yet high achieving team that pushed for the premiership just two years after its formation.
Prince, Rogers and Campbell had flair but the side became known for its high workrate, toughness and brutal honesty, with each player willing to accept responsibility for its deficiencies and its strengths.
“I think that initial group surprised a few people with how rapidly we became successful,” Laffranchi said.
“We’d come together from all over the place, stuck together and became good mates.
“There weren’t a lot of what you’d call major superstars. Presto, Rogers and Prince had a lot of talent but they couldn’t perform without the tradesmen.
“We worked hard for each other.”
The outfit to tackle the Brisbane Broncos in Friday night’s elimination final has been two years in the making.
Friend, Will Zillman, Ryan James and David Mead were youngsters at the club in 2010 and Greg Bird had experience but was still the new guy in the pack.
There is a sprinkling of attacking sparkle from Ash Taylor, Tyrone Roberts and Jarryd Hayne.
And Zeb Taia, Luke Douglas and Chris McQueen are more reliable than explosive.
“They’ve introduced Jarryd Hayne but he’s buying into what these other guys have done,” said Laffranchi, affectionately known as Boof.
“They fight for everything and that’s shown in the close results they’ve had this year.
“They play within their own capabilities but work hard for each other and the results are a credit to them.”
Laffranchi has noted the team’s leadership balance is an interesting mix.
All the senior players lead by example and each performs their role to the letter.
“There’s not a lot of talkers,” said Laffranchi who played more than 100 games for Gold Coast.
“Ryan does the hard stuff (and) Ash and Birdy are pretty vocal. And guys like Taia and McQueen are pretty experienced.”
Laffranchi returned to the club last year after a stint with St Helens and is revelling in his new role.
“I love it. They’re a really low maintenance bunch,” he said.