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'I get to make my family proud': Homecoming incredibly special for Brown

February 27 will be a dream come true for Karina Brown.

From the age of two, the experienced NRLW campaigner has called the Gold Coast her home, but has never had the opportunity to don her local colours on the big stage.

However, that is all about to change when the Titans sprint out of the sheds for their Round 1 clash against the Dragons.

"Finally! It’s been six months and it feels good to be out here," Brown said, as she prepared for her first pre-season session of the new year.

It was in June last year when the Rugby League World Cup-winning winger got the magical phone call that brought a wave of emotions - hearing the good news that the Titans were joining the expanded NRLW competition and that she was wanted as a marquee player.

There wasn't an inkling of hesitation from the 32-year-old to say yes.

‘The Titans is where I should be’ - Brown

"It was a big moment for me actually because I really wanted to play for the Gold Coast Titans, but I’ve always wanted to put women’s rugby league first," Brown said.

"You’d say I was willing to go anywhere but deep down, the Titans is where I should be.

"So, to end up getting here is excellent and I get to make my family proud and run out in the first ever Titans team. It’s pretty special."

Playing in all three seasons of NRLW so far - two years at the Roosters and one with the Warriors - the long-time Queensland stalwart joked about being able to bring her old age and experience to the young group.

But with that, she hoped her enthusiasm and energetic passion for the sport also shone through, given the lack of opportunity when she was a young up-and-comer.

The Titans in action at pre-season training.
The Titans in action at pre-season training.

"I’m hoping to bring my energy and my experience in the game," Brown said.

"I’ve been part of the game for 12 years, so I feel like I’ve learnt a lot and can pass a lot down, especially to our young ones that are coming through who are such talented athletes and have been in a privileged position to be playing rugby league all through school.

"I didn’t get to start until I was 21, so they're all actually way better than me anyway, but I’m sure I can still teach them a thing or two."

With the Titans featuring a young and exuberant squad, the 11 Test Jillaroos representative is most looking forward to seeing 18-year-old Tiana Raftstrand-Smith flourish in her second year of elite rugby league. 

Brown is expecting big things from youngster Tiana Raftstrand-Smith.
Brown is expecting big things from youngster Tiana Raftstrand-Smith.

"Obviously, she got to play Origin this year and was a standout for us then and I’ve also played with her at Burleigh. She’s such a great, strong, young talent and I’m excited to see her do special things here," Brown said.

With youth also comes experience, and the excitement to see Queensland's favourite daughter Steph Hancock return to the footy field hasn't been lost either.

"I’m not surprised at all [that she hasn’t thrown her boots out yet]," Brown said.

"She’s just such a wonderful character and a great human being and what she brings to the group apart from experience is calm, cool, composure.

"But then on the field, she’s a wrecking ball, so she’ll do the job for us."

Steph Hancock will bring plenty of experience to the Titans.
Steph Hancock will bring plenty of experience to the Titans.

After three rounds on the road, the Titans will face off in a Queensland derby as their debut match at Cbus Super Stadium in Round 4, and the proud Gold Coast local can't wait to see the Legion in the grandstands supporting their newest rugby league team.

[The derby] will be a blockbuster and a half, won’t it?" Brown said.

"It’ll be great and something that [Titans chief executive] Steve [Mitchell] always says is about the Titans bringing the energy to inspire and make the Gold Coasters proud.

"We want to see everyone out here with their blue and gold supporting their first ever women’s team."

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Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.