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Special K time: Titans to unleash schoolboy sensation

If you're good enough, you're old enough... and that certainly is the case for young gun Keano Kini.

At just 19 years of age, the schoolboy sensation is set to become Titan #185 when he makes his NRL debut in front of a sold-out Suncorp Stadium for Magic Round.

It's an incredible feat for the teenager who only six months ago, graduated from Palm Beach Currumbin and was preparing for his first full season in an NRL system as a Titans development player.

Kini into open space

But that quickly changed after turning the tables in the Gold Coast's two pre-season challenge matches, becoming a household name overnight with a scintillating second half performance against the Broncos - making a whopping 151 running metres, a line break and two tackle breaks in only 40 minutes of footy.

Fast-tracked into the club's top 30 roster ahead of Round 1, it was only in Kini's wildest dreams that ten weeks later he'd find himself preparing to make his first NRL appearance in front of 50,000 fans.

"I'm still buzzing at the moment... I can't even put it into words right now," he told moments after finding out about this debut.

"It's such a proud moment for myself and my family, especially coming over from New Zealand two years ago with my mum and dad.

"They've sacrificed so much for me to come over here, so it's hard to put into words the feeling."

Magic comes early: Cameras capture Kini's debut call to Mum

Growing up on the northern shores of New Zealand, the Northcote Tigers junior packed up his life with his parents and moved across the ditch at only age 16 when he was offered the opportunity to join the Future Titans program after being scouted on his potential.

Delivering in his first year as a pathways product, playing a big role in helping PBC to their Queensland Schoolboy Cup triumph, the flashy young gun backed it up last year by winning the Justin Hodges Medal alongside Karl Oloapu - who has also just recently made his debut - as well as lighting it up in the Future Titans' trial matches, most notably with a impressive first-half hat-trick against the Cowboys Under 19s at the backend of 2022.

Upon joining the Gold Coast NRL system full-time, he was elevated straight to the Hostplus Cup where he has averaged 181 run metres - including three games making over 200 metres - as well as chiming in with four tackle busts, a try assist and a line break per match across his first six games for the Burleigh Bears.

Straight outta school: Kini ready for NRL challenge

It has been an extremely fast rise for Kini, who wants to continually soak everything in and remain humble with every opportunity - advice continually guided by his parents, especially father Mike who was a notable Auckland Rugby League player in his own right.

"It has been pretty fast, and I'm just trying to take it as it comes," he told

"My mum and dad tell me to just stay humble and take one thing at a time and just learn.

"It's only my first year here at the club and also playing Cup, so I've been learning off the Burleigh boys on the weekends and off the Titans boys when I'm here during the week."

Presenting his debut jersey ahead of his first match, Justin Holbrook was full of admiration for the up-and-coming star, crediting his incredible work ethic, attitude and character to get him to where he is today.

"His work rate is phenomenal. The minute he started pre-season, I loved the way he went about it," the Titans coach said.

"I know our players can’t wait to play with him and it’s always a good indicator when you ask the senior boys about the younger boys coming through. When I mentioned his name, they couldn’t wait to have him in the side with us.

"It’s not until you get to know him… his character is what we love about him the most.

"He’s such a humble, polite friendly guy and as a club, we can’t wait for him to get on the field at some stage.

"I wish him all the best."

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.