Langer backs his Broncos boys in grand final bid
FEW Ipswich sportsmen are as proud of the city as Allan "Alfie'' Langer.
Wherever he travels, Alfie is quick to promote Ipswich in a cheeky but effective way that only he can.
However, when three of his favourite rugby league teams have already savoured glory and his fourth side has a chance to emulate that this weekend, Alfie's passion for his home town shines even more.
"I'm very proud,'' the Ipswich-born and bred football luminary said when asked about the Jets' grand final win last weekend.
"This is where they came from and (look at) how much work the Walker brothers have put into that side.''
Alfie was at Suncorp Stadium watching intently as his former team held out the Townsville Blackhawks 32-20.
"It's just great to see the brand of football and especially the way they won on the weekend,'' Langer said.
"The Blackhawks had a very good side but so did the Jets. The way they approached the game was very good.''
The Jets' win completed a hat-trick of successes already this year for teams Langer has worked with this season or has long associations with.
Ipswich's historic Queensland Cup triumph followed Norths securing back-to-back Ipswich Rugby League grand final wins after the mighty Queensland Maroons regained the State of Origin title.
"That's great to see,'' the former Broncos captain and Australian halfback said of the Tigers' reward.
"A win after 20 years last year and just to do two in a row is very hard to do no matter what comp you play. It's great for Norths and the club itself.
"I know a lot of people work hard week in, week out. The volunteers that are there, it pays off at the end of the year.''
Among those volunteers is Alfie's mum Rita.
The rugby league great was delighted to see Ipswich City Council - his former employee in the 1980s - acknowledge Rita at last year's City of Ipswich Sports Awards.
Rita was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for her 43 years voluntary service around the city.
"She was over the moon,'' Langer said. "She loves Ipswich, she loves Norths.''
Langer's rise from Norths to the Jets to the Broncos to the Queensland Maroons and Australian Kangaroos is an incredible story.
After being a truckie's offsider and building roads, he represented Queensland 37 times, including three in the Super League era, and Australia on 25 occasions from 1987-2002.
But while past achievements are memorable, another big one remains on offer in Sydney on Sunday.
That's when the Brisbane Broncos tackle the North Queensland Cowboys in the massive National Rugby League grand final showdown.
The game is fittingly after the Jets play Newcastle in the curtainraiser between the best state league teams from Queensland and NSW.
As assistant Broncos coach working with master mentor Wayne Bennett and long-time friend Kevin Walters, Langer was modest about his role.
"I just do what needs to be done,'' he said. "I just help out wherever I can.''
However, those who watch the Broncos play each week know Alfie spends as much time on the field and sideline as the players.
His water running duties clearly provide valuable support, especially for the younger members of this year's remodelled Broncos combination.
"I love it,'' Langer, 49, said.
"It's a great place to watch the game from. Just to be involved with the Broncos club and this great young side is fantastic.''
Alfie played 258 matches for the Broncos, scoring 100 tries during his remarkable NRL career.
One of the highlights was winning the Clive Churchill Medal in 1992 as best player in Brisbane's 28-8 grand final win over St George. The aptly named "Little General'' scored two tries in that title decider at the Sydney Football Stadium.
He hopes the winning tradition continues at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
"Being a Bronco from the start, it is just great to see them playing a great brand of football,'' Langer said.
As he reflects on many past glories, Langer said a Broncos win on Sunday would be the proverbial icing on the cake.
"We've come this far so it's no use dropping now,'' he said.
"It's two very good sides and especially Johnathan Thurston. He'll want to cap off a great season and hopefully we stand in his way.''
Langer said having their captain cleared of a dangerous tackle charge was a huge boost for the Broncos.
"We'll be very relaxed I think,'' he said. "It's just great news that Justin Hodges got off last night.''
The Broncos will train this morning before having Friday off and the last running session on Saturday morning.