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Next of Kini: Titans flyer ready to answer if debut calls

Keano Kini was the name on everybody’s lips at the Titans before the season kicked off and now could find himself in the minds of 40,000 fans should he be called up to make his Magic Round debut.

Kini has been named as 18th man for the first time this year, giving him a chance of making his NRL debut at this year’s Magic Round match against the Eels. 

The Northcote Tigers junior was a breakout star during this year’s Pre-Season Challenge and since then, has been impressing in the Hostplus Cup with the Burleigh Bears – putting himself in position to come into the side as the veteran Foran races the clock with knee and toe injuries. 

“There’s a lot of young fellas coming through the Titans system that are allocated to the Bears – I think there has been a bit of talk about young Keano Kini," Bears coach Luke Burt told "He’s probably in a similar situation to what Lofi [Alofiana Khan-Pereira] was at the start of last year.

“There was a bit of hype around him and he gets his opportunity to play against men [in reserve grade] and show how he can handle it.

Keano Kini in action for the Burleigh Bears in the Hostplus Cup.
Keano Kini in action for the Burleigh Bears in the Hostplus Cup. ©Dylan Parker / QRL

“The Titans have a really good bunch of young kids coming through that I think in the next two or three years’ time will put the club in a really good position.”

Kini knew all about the Titans as a club before cracking the top squad, having arrived with his aunty Rona Peters as part of the club's NRLW side last year.

"We moved from Auckland two years ago," Kini recently told the QRL. "My mum and dad packed up everything and moved over here for me [to join the Titans’ junior system]. I owe everything to my parents and my family.

“It’s all happened pretty quick and I’m happy for my family as well. My family sacrificed a lot for me to get here so I’m just trying to repay them.

“I’m proud... if anything higher happens, it happens."

With Foran sidelined from training on Wednesday, Kini trained exclusively at fullback with Jayden Campbell – who was named in the number one jersey to replace the injured AJ Brimson – a chance of shifting into the halves if Foran is ruled out.

The Titans play in the final game of Magic Round on Sunday afternoon, which does give the veteran playmaker the best possible chance of proving his fitness.

Keano Kini playing for the Gold Coast Titans during the Pre-Season Challenge.
Keano Kini playing for the Gold Coast Titans during the Pre-Season Challenge. ©Zain Mohammed / NRL

“One kid I think is going to be a star is Keano Kini,” halfback Tanah Boyd said earlier this year. “He’s lightning quick, he’s unbelievable, really.

“I think in the next year, or it might even be this year, he’ll definitely play and he’s a special talent and such a good kid.

"He wants to learn all the time and he’s probably one for me to look out for.”

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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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