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Karapani. Photo: Dylan Parker/QRL

Burleigh Bears winger Josiah Karapani will make his NRL debut tonight for the Brisbane Broncos in their Magic Round clash with the Manly Sea Eagles.

The 22-year-old signed with the Broncos ahead of season 2024, moving north from the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

He started the season in the Hostplus Cup with Broncos affiliates Burleigh and has grown in confidence in his time at the club, only missing one game over the opening nine weeks.

In his eight appearances, Karapani has scored six tries, racked up six line breaks and made an impressive 28 tackle busts, with an average of 153 run metres a game.

Burleigh coach Luke Burt said it’s been good watching Karapani come out of his shell and excel, particularly with the help of his Bears teammates, with last year’s runners-up currently sitting at the top of the Hostplus Cup ladder with seven wins from nine games.

“He was a quiet, shy kid at the start but he’s fit in really well,” Burt said.

“The first couple of weeks, he was only coming to us on a Friday and didn’t really know anyone. But since he’s got to know the boys, both the boys and have him bought in really well.

“He’s been a huge factor on how we’re travelling this season and where we sit on the ladder.

“The boys have been a really big part of this too, giving him the confidence he needs and embracing him into our environment. The style of footy they’ve played has helped Josiah’s rugby league too.

“He’s really given us some of that go-forward in the back field. He has fantastic footwork and is a really hard worker on his game. He’s come along really, really well.”

Karapani’s debut was a late revelation yesterday after Broncos fullback Reece Walsh was withdrawn from the clash at Suncorp Stadium with knee soreness.

He was due to enjoy a week off in Hostplus Cup, with Bears on the bye, but will now achieve a career dream on one of the biggest stages in the game.

Burt said he suspected Karapani would make his NRL debut this year and was thrilled to hear it had come so soon.

“I was hoping he would get a start,” Burt said.

“I know what he’s done in the past with Souths and it was Josiah putting it out there for all to see. He’s done it again in the past seven or eight weeks and is reaping the rewards.”

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Main image: Josiah Karapani in action for the Burleigh Bears. Photo: Dylan Parker/QRL

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