You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Fab Five: Teen Titans set grand final record against Knights

The talented teenage quintet from the Gold Coast Titans are gearing up for the biggest game of their fledgling careers this Sunday, but they already have plenty of experience under their belt to help settle the nerves.

The old rugby league cliché regarding 'the perfect blend of experience and youth' has never rung truer, with the Titans set to field the most teenagers in either an NRL or NRLW grand final. 

Destiny Mino-Sinapati, Chantay Kiria-Ratu, Sienna Lofipo, Rilee Jorgensen and Dannii Perese all are between the ages of 18 and 19, while the team also features the most experienced player in the competition in Steph Hancock, who turned 41 this year.

Titans teenagers Sienna Lofipo, Dannii Perese, Rilee Jorgensen, Chantay Kiria-Ratu and  Destiny Mino-Sinapati have set the NRLW alight
Titans teenagers Sienna Lofipo, Dannii Perese, Rilee Jorgensen, Chantay Kiria-Ratu and Destiny Mino-Sinapati have set the NRLW alight ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Since making her debut in Round 1, halfback Kiria-Ratu has been a consistent presence in the spine and said the time many of the young cohort had spent together with Queensland’s Under 19 team had helped build their confidence.

“We've built that connection down at our Queensland camp. I think there was about five of us, so we really connected really well down there,” Kiria-Ratu said.

“We kind of took the lead, and I'm just really excited to play along with them again.

Kiria-Ratu's star continues to rise

“Having us young girls around mixed with the older girls creates a really good environment. It's not all seriousness. It's kind of a bit of both fun and serious, and I think that we can definitely switch that fun off and get straight into seriousness into the game.

“I think being surrounded by the girls kind of helps me get into my place where I know what my job is and focus on the game more than all this outside noise.

“And I think we've created a safe space for us to really connect and leave that outside noise out of the way.”

Destiny Mino-Sinapati Try

While plenty of attention has been paid to the young backs, forwards Perese and Jorgensen have been shining from the bench – helping the Titans with their go-forward when starting props Shannon Mato and Jessika Elliston come off the field.

“They're doing absolutely amazing; Rilee's just natural and so is Dannii,” Mato said.

“Rilee's got this character about her that's just so amazing and it's so unique, she's just herself. It's not even cockiness, it's just confidence and she just always stays true to herself, which I love.

“If you're not yourself, then you're not going to play your best footy.

'I'm still shaking' - Jorgensen's off to the Grand Final

“And Dannii, she's a star in the making. It's only the start for her and I can't wait to see her journey unfold, because she's going to be a star and she's so talented.

“Getting more confidence is going to come in time. You come with different mental battles, physical battles and coming into an environment that’s not a full-time professional, but it's still somewhat professional, you've got to adapt to that.

“It's not like club footy, you turn up at training and you might have the worst week or the worst day, and you still have got to turn up for your mates.

“I think that's become a realisation not just to her but to me and to everyone else that's here and that's why the team culture is so important, because you need to fit the values that fit the team.”

It's getting heated at Allianz

For Perese, following the example set by the newly crowned Dally M Prop of the Year winner and back-to-back Gold Coast Titans NRLW Player of the Year winner Mato has helped her grow her confidence.

“This season has been really great," Perese said. "It's been a learning experience personally for me. It's a big shift from what I've been with before and a lot of the girls have been really helpful with my journey.

“One of the reasons I came to Titans was because I had met Shannon and Jess at one of our Queensland camps and I think it was the first time I met forwards that were genuinely happy to help someone.

“They were always making sure I was involved. It's harder being younger, sometimes you don't feel like you have a voice, but they're always asking me ‘what do you want to do?’, so I think that's really great having them.”

The Titans' young talent time

  • The Gold Coast's five teens in the team sheet is a record for men’s or women’s grand finals. St George Illawarra had four teenagers in their 2019 NRLW grand final team: Shaylee Bent (19 and 22 days), Keeley Davis (19 and 92 days), Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa’amausili (18 and 288 days) and Maddison Weatherall (18 and 25 days).
  • The record for a men’s grand final is three in the Eastern Suburbs in their match against South Sydney in 1931. Those players were future internationals Dave Brown, Ernie Norman and Ray Stehr.
  • Despite having five teenagers in the side, the average age for the Titans (25 and 347 days) is still older than the Knights (24 and 202 days).

Stats supplied by David Middleton, League Information Services, author of the official annual of the NRL.

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.