North Harbour's latest import has 'been there, done that', writes CHRIS RATTUE.

Mark Giacheri's parents met in their teens, on a boat taking them from Italy to Australia. The new life.

Australian-born Giacheri has often travelled on rugby business since, frequently back to where his parents came from.

He's the 'I've been everywhere' man. Australia, Italy, France, England and now New Zealand.


"I've only ever played for one club in each country, though," says the temporary North Harbour lock, who has played 37 tests for Italy since playing for Treviso in 1991.

"It's not the life for everyone, moving around all the time. But I love travelling."

The 32-year-old Giacheri is North Harbour's latest gun-for-hire.

They have had players such as South African Adri Geldenhuys and Australian Rod Moore in the pack, bolstering the tight five.

It took just one trial game for coach Wayne Shelford to throw Giacheri straight into the NPC pack, and his next port of call will be at Pukekohe Stadium today against Counties Manukau in the third round of the Air New Zealand-sponsored competition.

Giacheri's career started at Randwick in Sydney and the players he has lined up with are a who's who of rugby.

His Randwick team-mates included current Australian coach Eddie Jones, George Gregan, Phil Kearns, Ewen McKenzie, Owen Finegan, Simon Poidevin, David Knox, Lloyd Walker, James Holbeck, Chris Latham and a character called David Campese.

Some of the most notable of those players ended up in Canberra. Eastern Suburbs seemed to have a hold on New South Wales selections at the time, so the likes of Gregan and Finegan scarpered.

Giacheri also made an Australian junior team over a decade ago, sitting on the bench behind John Eales and Garrick Morgan.

The locking opponents in a match against their New Zealand counterparts were Martin Johnson, then of King Country and now the English and Lions captain, and Blair Larsen.

Giacheri's travels also brought him into contact with Italian coach Brad Johnstone, the former All Black and North Shore prop, who put in a good word for him at North Harbour.

Giacheri was heading back to Europe but ended up at Harbour as temporary cover for Troy Flavell. In a way, it completes his rugby education before he probably joins English club Sale.

"Outside of the Super 12, the NPC is regarded as the best competition in the world and it's lived up to all I thought it would be," he says.

As for remaining ambitions, injury and selection decisions mean he has yet to play for Italy in the Six Nations. Giacheri hopes to put that right next season.