Next big thing
By Adam Wratten
The new Gold Coast National Rugby League club is today expected to unveil Wests Tigers forward and former Murwillumbah product Anthony Laffranchi as its lastest big-name signing.
Club officials refused to confirm Laffranchi would be linking with the Gold Coast outfit but managing director Michael Searle is expected to reveal the player's identity today at a news conference.
If Laffranchi signs with the Gold Coast he will join Penrith playmaker Preston Campbell, NSW State of Origin star Luke Bailey and Great Britain winger Brian Carney at the club for the 2007 NRL competition.
Laffranchi, 24, has emerged as one of the NRL's most promising forwards this season after making his first grade debut for the Wests Tigers in 2003.
His move to the Gold Coast franchise has regularly been hinted at in the media and the speculation gathered momentum recently when Laffranchi inked a one-year extension of his contract with the Tigers.
He will now come off contract at the end of 2006, making him available to join the Gold Coast in time for their entry into the NRL.
Laffranchi declined yesterday to confirm whether or not he was about to sign with the club but he did say he would seriously consider the move.
"It's something I definitely would look at, I'm fully interested in the club," said Laffranchi, adding his manager handled all contract negotiations.
"My manager has expressed my interest and I've left it in his ball park."
Wests have the bye this week. The club will have an early training session this morning with the players free for the rest of the weekend.
Laffranchi, a former student at Mt St Patrick College where he played with Sharks winger Luke Covell, played his junior football in Murwillumbah.
He also played with the Murwillumbah Mustangs where he had two years in the club's under-19 side and one in its first grade squad before leaving for Sydney.
In that year he was named Group 18 Rookie of the Year and also the club's Player of the Year.