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Josiah Pahulu: 'Impressive young player with a tremendous work ethic'

Burleigh Bears young gun Josiah Pahulu is riding high following a stellar year on the paddock - and it just got that bit better.

The powerhouse forward was part of the Queensland Under 19 side, made history captaining Ipswich State High School to their first Queensland and national schoolboys titles, and has now joined the Gold Coast Titans until the end of 2025

The 18-year-old, who first played rugby league for Springfield Panthers and has been within the Titans systems since 2019, scored three tries during his five Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup games this year, and one try during his two Hostplus Cup games. 

He was also a standout performer for the Queensland Under 19 side against New South Wales and at the Australian School National Championships.

Playing for the Queensland Under 19 side. Photo: NRL Imagery
Playing for the Queensland Under 19 side. Photo: NRL Imagery

His performances culminated in an Australian Schoolboys call-up which saw Pahulu play for his country in Fiji last month.

"I'm still buzzing from the year," Pahulu said.

"The first achievement that I was excited for was Queensland Under 19s. Going into that camp really opened my eyes. Seeing the boys' IQ, how they talk and how they carry themselves off the field... that was a good experience for me."

Pahulu, who looked up to Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston growing up, said he enjoyed hearing from the legends of the game.

"Seeing the self-respect they have and the respect they have for others, and their love for the game... you can see the rivalry is strong in how passionately they talk about it," Pahulu said.

"Greg Inglis came in and told us how much he hated the Blues. Seeing how passionate he is about Origin... you're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for your family and your state, and you want to do them proud."

Pahulu added he took what he learned during the Queensland Under 19 camp into Queensland schoolboys.

"The next one was schoolboys, Queensland. That was also an experience as well. Learning the things I learned from Queensland Under 19s, I applied it to 18s and showed some of the boys the things that I learned."

Pahulu also captained Ipswich State High's Allan Langer Cup side to victory. 

"Schoolboys, we took the Langer Cup out with Ipswich. Over the years we have been working really hard and it felt good to finally get the reward we've been seeking over the years," Pahulu said.

"We went to the next level, to the Phil Hall Cup. That also was a great experience. We played the Phil Hall at Gold Coast Titans. It was a tough game. I still can't believe it... we went onto the national final. I think all of the boys had nerves but as soon as they sat down, had a think, I think that's when all of the nerves went away. They earned their spots."

Pahulu, who is looking to become a more regular Cup fixture for the Bears in 2023, said the main thing he took out of the year was self-belief.

"I think having the ability to back yourself, is an important part of your game... it helps you develop more... less second guessing yourself," Pahulu said.

"It was a good year this year, but I think personally for me to continue growing, I need to put this year aside and look to pre-season.

"Having Tino (Fa'asuamaleaui), David (Fifita), all the older boys there, just having the opportunity to learn a lot from them and add to my own game."

Titans coach Justin Holbrook said Pahulu was "an impressive young player with a tremendous work ethic".  

Pre-season has begun. Photo: Jorja Brinums/QRL
Pre-season has begun. Photo: Jorja Brinums/QRL

“He’s a middle forward with the ability to play big minutes up front, which was seen this year with his time at Ipswich State High School and representing his state and country.

"Another impressive quality is his leadership capabilities, with him being a natural mentor for his peers around him. 

"He has a bright future ahead here at the club and I look forward to seeing him develop through the grades before no doubt getting his opportunity to play in the NRL sometime soon."

The young talent added longer term he wanted to be "doing what the senior boys are doing... playing NRL, playing their best footy". 

"I've been playing rugby league since a young age... I grew up in a competitive family and rugby league was the perfect sport. Seeing my cousins playing rugby league, obviously I wanted to jump in. Run with the big boys," Pahulu said.

Running. Photo: Jorja Brinums/QRL
Running. Photo: Jorja Brinums/QRL

"I know there's a lot of work to be done... I am keen and excited to get it done.

"I feel like there's a lot to work on but the main one will be natural spacing, getting up square. Getting the basics right, perfecting the basics.

"My family is my biggest support; they do so much for me. One day I want to give back to them."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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