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'He's earned that jersey': Kini happy to be No. 1 caretaker in Campbell's absence

Keano Kini has shared his excitement to be wearing the No. 1 jersey for next Saturday's season opener against the Dragons, but the teenage sensation has humbly suggested he is only a caretaker for that spot in the interim.

With Jayden Campbell set to miss at least Round 1 as he enters the final stages of rehab on his dislocated patella, the 19-year-old has been anointed the custodian of the coveted fullback position, but stopped short of suggesting he is wanting to dethrone his teammate in the short term.

"JC has earned that jersey," he said at Wednesday's season launch.

"Unfortunately he’s out injured at the moment. I’m just trying to come in and do a good job… keep the spot safe until he comes back.

"He’ll probably come back and retake it, but he’s earned it so I’ll just try and do my best while I’m there."

From the Field: Keano Kini

Making six NRL appearances in 2023 after his stellar debut at Magic Round, the Palm Beach Currumbin prodigy has revealed how much knowledge he's gained under his first Des Hasler pre-season, as well as a baptism of fire in the Titans' second trial against a red-hot Parramatta outfit in Ipswich last Sunday.

"I learned heaps. I’m still getting used to the NRL myself," Kini said.

"I’m just trying to step into JC and AJ’s role and do my best.

"Last week (against the Eels) was a bit of a learning curve, but I’m sure I’ll be ready for Round 1.

"It’s all a mentality and an attitude. Parramatta came out with the intent that we lacked in that trial. That’s what we’re working on. Next week we’ll be ready."

Kini also feels ready for the rigours of first grade, especially with what's to come in the first game against the Dragons, knocking back any casts of doubt that he's not up to the physical demands of the NRL.

"I’m confident in myself and I always have been," he said.

"I know that I have a couple of games under my belt now and I know that I feel I’m physically ready to take on the NRL, so I’m confident."

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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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