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QRL to big stage: The Titans graduates of 2023

The Titans saw 13 debutants make their mark in the NRL and NRLW in 2023, with many of them progressing from the QRL's statewide competitions programs.

Stars like Alofiana Khan-Pereira - who was a try-scoring whiz for Burleigh in 2022 -  flourished on the big stage in Gold Coast colours in his maiden season, part of the 11 players who graduated from Queensland Rugby League's statewide competitions to the NRL.

Interim head coach Jim Lenihan also got his first taste of the NRL after winning premierships with Burleigh in 2016 and 2019.

See below for the full list:

Hostplus Cup to NRL

Alofiana Khan-Pereira

The 22-year-old try-scoring machine was on a mission to excel further in 2023, starting with pre-season training at Gold Coast Titans. Khan-Pereira was one of five Bears players named in the Hostplus Cup Team of the Year after a stellar 2022 season, which saw him score 25 tries in 19 games. From that, the winger debuted in the NRL in Round 1 of 2023 against Wests Tigers and he finished the season with 20 tries, five try assists and an average of 113 run metres per game in 23 appearances for the Titans.

Iszac Fa'asuamaleaui

The younger brother of Queensland Maroons talent and Gold Coast Titans captain Tino went from strength-to-strength during seasons 2022 and 2023. The talented prop showed what he could do for the Bears across both seasons. In 2023 he scored one try, made 15 tackle breaks, 207 tackles and averaged 123 run metres across nine appearances for the Bears. Fa'asuamaleaui made his NRL debut against Melbourne Storm in Round 3 alongside his big brother and finished the year with 13 appearances for the Titans.

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Keano Kini

The electric Burleigh Bears fullback, who was named Duncan Hall Medal winner in the Hostplus Cup grand final for best on field, had a breakout season in 2023. The 19-year-old scored five tries across 14 Cup appearances, averaged 199 run metres per game and had 13 try assists, 70 tackle breaks and 14 line breaks. Kini made his NRL debut for the Gold Coast Titans against Parramatta Eels in Round 10 and finished the year with six NRL appearances.

Jim Lenihan

A two-time premiership-winning coach with the Burleigh Bears, Lenihan was promoted to the top job with the Gold Coast Titans in 2023. Having been an assistant coach for the club for three and a half seasons, Lenihan took on the role as interim head coach following the departure of Justin Holbrook and snatched an upset victory over the Brisbane Broncos in his first game in charge. Across his 11 games in the role, Lenihan guided the Titans to three wins.

Jacob Alick

The 2023 Hostplus Cup second rower of the year, Alick’s red-hot form for the Burleigh Bears saw him rewarded with four NRL appearances, making his debut in Round 19 against the Dolphins. For the Bears, he played in 19 matches, including the 2023 grand final. During this time, the forward sensation scored 12 tries and registered 32 offloads, 13 line breaks and three line break assists, as well as an average of 117 run metres per game. In defence, he was strong for Burleigh with 95.5 per cent tackle efficiency and an average of 23 tackles per match.

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Tom Weaver

Touted as a playmaker of the future, 20-year-old Weaver made his debut for the Gold Coast Titans in Round 25 and went on to see out the season with the club. He started at halfback in all three of his appearances. For the Tweed Seagulls, Weaver was instrumental in their fight to qualify for the finals, finishing the season with 12 try assists, 12 line break assists and two four-pointers for himself.

BMD Premiership to NRLW

Destiny Mino-Sinapati

Mino-Sinapati was one of the breakout stars of 2023, not only graduating from Harvey Norman Under 19s to BMD Premiership but going that one step further into the NRLW. The Wynnum Manly fullback – who picked up the 2023 BMD Premiership Rookie of the Year – debuted for the Seagulls in Round 3 and finished the season with two tries, 21 tackle breaks, five line breaks and four try assists, as well as a grand final appearance. The teen sensation – who also represented Queensland Under 19 and Samoa in 2023 – then debuted for the Gold Coast Titans in Round 1 on the wing and was a mainstay in the team, going through to the NRLW premiership decider. For the Titans, Mino-Sinapati scored three tries, had 29 tackle breaks, five line breaks and a total of 975 run metres.

Chantay Kiria-Ratu

The talented playmaker has continued her impressive rise through the ranks, this year joining Souths Logan Magpies in the BMD Premiership. Kiria-Ratu excelled with the minor premiers, finishing the regular season undefeated. Dangerous with the ball in hand, the halfback played five games and during this time notched up two tries, four try assists and four line break assists. The Queensland Under 19 five-eighth then went on to debut for the Gold Coast Titans in Round 1 of the NRLW season at halfback. By Round 2 she was in the No.6 jersey and stayed there for the remainder of the season, helping steer the Titans to the grand final. In 11 appearances, Kiria-Ratu scored two tries, set up another three tries, and had six line break assists, eight offloads and 673 run metres.

Sienna Lofipo

Season 2023 was a special one for young playmaking sensation, Lofipo. Not only did she graduate from the Harvey Norman Under 19s to the BMD Premiership with Wynnum Manly, but she went on to captain the Queensland Under 19 team and experience a State of Origin camp as the 19th player for Game II with the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons. She capped off the year making an unexpected NRLW debut with the Gold Coast Titans, after she was activated as 18th player in the 57th minute of their Round 1 clash against the North Queensland Cowboys. Lofipo retained her place in the Titans’ 17, even playing in the grand final loss to Newcastle. In 10 appearances for the Titans, the 18-year-old scored two tries, had 17 tackle breaks, four offloads, 437 run metres and 111 tackles.

Rilee Jorgensen

Another Queensland Under 19 talent who was catapulted to the top of the women’s game in 2023 was tough Burleigh Bears forward, Jorgensen. A key part of Burleigh’s BMD Premiership campaign – which saw them win the 2023 grand final – the second rower always set a high standard, finishing the season with one try, one line break, three offloads, 136 tackles and 677 run metres. Named the player of the match in Queensland’s Under 19 win against New South Wales, Jorgensen then went on to debut for the Titans in Round 2 of the NRLW. She made a particular impact in defence throughout the season, finishing with 139 tackles and a 93.3 per cent efficiency.

Dannii Perese

After their premiership-winning season, the Bears saw a number of players pick up NRLW contracts in 2023. Another first-timer was prop, Perese. In her second BMD Premiership season, Perese stood tall for Burleigh’s pack with an average of 106 run metres per game and 109 tackles across the year. She also joined the Titans for the NRLW and made her debut alongside Jorgensen in Round 2. She finished the season with seven appearances, racking up 427 run metres and a tackle efficiency of 94.2 per cent. Perese also recorded one try, six tackle breaks and three offloads.

Sophie Buller

The 22-year-old lock was excellent for 2023 BMD Premiership premiers Burleigh. Buller scored two tries across her seven games for the Bears in 2023; she also made 19 tackle breaks, 137 tackles and averaged 87 run metres per game. Off the back of her fine form, Buller made her NRLW debut for Gold Coast Titans against St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 6.

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.