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'I'm very grateful': Ngatupuna speechless after dream debut NRLW season

It's famously said "one way to kill an opportunity is to avoid taking it".

Gold Coast Titans NRLW star April Ngatupuna got her opportunity, and she killed it... but in a completely different context.

At only 18 years of age, the New Zealand-born middle forward came to the club not necessarily expecting to play, but as a sponge, intending to soak up as much as she could from the experience around her - learning from the likes of Georgia Hale, Shannon Mato and Steph Hancock.

However, after Round 1 when the Titans suffered a number of injuries to their forwards, the Queensland Under 19 representative got her chance to shine, and from that moment on, she hasn't looked back.

Playing the remainder of the season, she still pinches herself her NRLW debut came so soon. 

"I was just going with the flow, learning from everyone else, especially Steph Hancock, Shannon Mato and some of the other girls. I just wanted to take it all in, get advice from them and just feel the vibe," Ngatupuna said.

"Making my debut was something I didn't know was going to come so soon. To wear the Titans jersey... I am very grateful and very humbled.

"Just to think of all the girls back at my home town and the fact I have been able to  pave the way for all the girls who can't do this."

Playing as an impact forward off the bench for 20-25 minutes a game, she finished the season averaging nearly 80 metres each stint with the ability to bend the line every time, as well as being solid in defence with a tackle efficiency of 93 percent.

Her attitude and effort in and amongst the group at training and in games didn't go unnoticed by her peers, nor by Gold Coast coaching staff, recognising the barnstorming prop with the prestigious Titans coaches award at Wednesday's NRLW Awards.

"It was really unexpected. Like it was a really big shock to me," Ngatupuna admitted.

"I'm not very loud at training and that. I just come to work and the girls made it so easy for me."

Having Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons coach Tahnee Norris watching on every session has also helped the teen star, with her quiet but hard-working approach being rewarded by the Origin mentor.

"It's still a really speechless feeling for me getting selected in the Queensland squad," Ngatupuna said.

"I'm just going to try and take everything on board, keep grounded and try to stay in the grind with it.

"I have to take it all in and just go hard."

The 2022 NRLW season is set to kick-off in August and the Titans are aiming for grand final glory after coming so close in their inaugural season. Show your support with a NRLW membership - on sale now ready for '22!

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.