Titans hardmen vow to toughen up NSW

Anthony Laffranchi and Luke Bailey are the driving force behind the Gold Coast Titans. Forget the Scott Prince show and go, the magic of Preston Campbell and the astute kicking of Mat Rogers, without these two the Titans would struggle and they know it.<br><br>It’s impossible to deny. These two are their forward leaders, the pair who drive them over the advantage line and give their talented backs the opportunity to shine. The stats show it and their teammates know it.<br><br>The mutual respect between the two is there for all to see and with a sneaky wink and a gleam in their eye, both reckon the other is a certainty to win a NSW spot this year.<br><br>Bailey was quick off the mark to talk his mate up.<br><br>“I think ‘Boof’s’ an automatic selection for Origin, he was great last year and deserves to keep his spot.”<br><br>When told of the news Laffranchi was quick to respond.<br><br>“I actually said that to him (that he’s an automatic selection) so he’s using my quote. Luke’s been one of the best front rowers going around for years. He was very unlucky last year and I think he should get a start this year. Bull is a tremendous leader at the Gold Coast and I’m sure he will be for NSW. <br><br>“I owe a bit to Bails actually. You tend to pick up little things from him all the time, he pushes you that extra mile and has helped me get to the place I am at today. He wouldn’t look out of place in the sky blue, didn’t look out of place the last time he wore it and won’t the next time he wears it.”<br><br>They are both born leaders on the footy field yet this year, despite the Titans surge towards the top of the NRL, neither seem to have received much in terms of glowing praise from the media. Maybe that’s why they have to give it to each other.<br><br>However, in terms of leading the Titans to equal second on the NRL ladder both have done their job.<br><br>Laffranchi leads the NRL in hit ups with 94 along with Panthers front rower Petero Civoniceva. He also features in the all runs stat with 116 (fifth in NRL), is 16th in both all run metres with 814m gained and tackles with a whopping 231 – an average of over 30 a game. <br><br>Bailey is having yet another good start to the year, despite missing last week’s game through injury. He has taken 75 hit ups (13th), made 96 runs (23rd) and made 798 metres (21st) at an average of 8.2m/run, which are quality metres.<br><br>Titans’ five eighth Mat Rogers knows his team wouldn’t be the force they are without them and added his name to those who think the duo should be playing Origin.<br><br>“I don’t think there is a back rower in the NRL who is more effective than ‘Boof’. I watch him at training and he does things that don’t seem possible, he gets through holes which aren’t there and I want him to show me how to make those hole runs.<br><br>“I think it was clear last week how much we missed Luke Bailey. He has been playing super footy and is a real leader out on the field. We’ll be happy to have him back this week.”<br><br>As for Origin, ‘Bails’ is purpose built for it. He was unlucky last year. ‘Boof’ should keep his jersey and ‘Bails’ deserves a recall. NSW have to try something after three straight losses.”<br><br>Both Bailey and Laffranchi know it’s their form at the Titans which will get them selected and are ready for their clash with South Sydney this weekend and, according to Bailey, are looking to improve further. <br><br>“There’s a couple of weeks to go until they pick the Origin side so I will have to try and up the ante at the Titans a bit. That starts against South Sydney, they’re a good team and Roy Asotasi is one of the best front rowers going around at the moment so it’s a good chance for me to show what I have got.”<br><br>If Bailey and Laffranchi are able to do that, they may just lead the Blues forwards into Origin battle.