W HEN Luke Douglas made his debut for the land of his father's father last weekend, he was also paying tribute to the memory of his mother.

Few can possibly understand the range of emotions being experienced by the 27-year-old Gold Coast Titans front-row forward who is interrupting an extraordinary career in Australia's National Rugby League to play for Scotland in the forthcoming Rugby League World Cup.

Having matched the NRL record for consecutive appearances - 194 in all since his first for Cronulla Sharks in 2006 - he has joined a squad led by Danny Brough, this season's Super League Man of Steel. In Australia, though, they are calling Douglas 'the Titanium Titan' and he believes his mum provided more than her share of the necessary genes.

"When I was growing up she was always first to help out. I wouldn't have played all these games in succession without her," he said. "Any niggle, the slightest injury and she was searching on the computer to see what the best treatment would be."

His achievement is all the more remarkable given the position he plays. Jason Taylor, who set the record, operated in the rather less confrontational role of half-back.

Trish Douglas did not live to see her oldest son do it. This time last year she and husband Chris had been on what they considered the trip of a lifetime to watch Kane, Luke's younger brother, take part in his first European tour with the Wallabies. The stroke she suffered while on the London-bound plane was shocking enough for her husband and sons, but further examination produced an even more dreadful diagnosis, its cause having been a malignant melanoma.

Luke and Jake, the youngest of the three brothers, got on the first available flight to be at their parents' side and they managed to fly her home to Australia, but she never properly recovered and died in May.

It speaks to Douglas's mental and physical fortitude that he kept himself fit enough, getting off the train three stops early to run to the hospital every day during three- and-a-half miserable weeks in England which coincided with Titans' pre-season training, in order to maintain the appearance streak on his return home.

Kane, meanwhile, showed similar resolve when representing the Wallabies in a Test match against France just days after his mother took ill and is touring with them again during a trip that will take them to Murrayfield next month.

With Jake also playing rugby in England, then, the gathering of the Douglas clan on British soil when their father arrives next week will be deeply poignant.

"Last year was dad's first time in the UK so he wasn't too sure whether he wanted to come back over here but we persuaded him and he's coming with a pal in time for our first game in Workington next week. We're hoping to create some better memories this time," said Luke.

In competitive terms, no-one has a better understanding of how difficult it will be to achieve that aim since Scotland's opener is against men Douglas knows only too well. "Tonga will be extremely tough," he said. "I watched them play Samoa during the season and it was a fierce encounter. They are big boys with a lot of NRL experience and they are going to be hard to stop, but if we are solid in 'D' [defence] we can do it."

That opening encounter is likely to prove decisive in Scotland's bid to earn a glamour quarter-final meeting with the defending champions New Zealand, a huge challenge considering their limited preparation.

Douglas made his debut in the sole warm-up match against Papua New Guinea in Featherstone but, for all that the Scots were beaten by a sizeable margin of 38-20, he expressed some satisfaction.

"We had only had one training session ahead of that match so there were a lot of errors and there were tries against the run of play from interceptions and ricochets, but we've got [fellow NRL import] Peter Wallace and Broughie who are world class half-backs and there is plenty of depth," he observed. "If we can tighten things up then we can have a good tournament."

Ironically, given his NRL record, Douglas's Scotland debut came five years after it was first scheduled because the coaches at the Sharks felt that, because of the injuries he was carrying, he should be withdrawn from consideration for the Scotland squad for the 2008 World Cup in Australia.

Now that he is in the mix, though, no-one will be more determined to help his side make history by reaching the knockout stages, since few of the many antipodean-born rugby players who have brought their talents to Scotland in recent years have made as convincing a emotional case for inclusion.

While Douglas has played for the Australian Prime Minister's XIII, a shadow Test side, his claim that his grandfather ensured his family immersed itself in Scottish heritage comes with impressive provenance.

"It was a proud moment singing Flower of Scotland on Saturday," said Douglas. "My grandfather came from Springfield Road in Glasgow and still lives in a little place around 10 miles from where I live, called Maclean, which is probably the most Scottish town in Australia. They have all sorts of Scottish festivals there and all the telegraph poles are painted in different clan tartans. His name is Archibald Douglas, so is my father's and he was going to call me that as well but changed his mind because of all the stick he copped at school, so I'm Luke Archibald. If I have a son I think I might revive it, though. It's one of those names that has come back into fashion."

It is more debatable as to whether Douglas's chosen sport will ever become fashionable in the country he is representing but, while many Scottish rugby fans will be more aware of Kane's achievements with the Wallabies, the older brother is at least as well known in Australian sport given the superior status of the 13-man code nationwide.

His presence, along with that of his fellow products of the NRL ensures, then, that there is a tough core for Steve McCormack, Scotland's head coach, to build his hopes and plans around. Luke Douglas is, after all, a man who truly knows how to deal with adversity.