Extended deals for Kepu twinsRichard Becht & warriors.kiwi & photosport.nz
Fri 12 Nov 2021, 01:38 PM
Imposing twins Otukinekina and Valingi Kepu will join the Vodafone Warriors’ fulltime NRL squad in 2023 after securing extended contracts with the club.
The 19-year-old Aorere College products, signed on development contracts for 2022, will become top 30 players on two-year deals for the 2023 and 2024 NRL seasons.
After appearing for the Vodafone Warriors’ foundation S G Ball Cup (under-18 side) in 2020, the Kepus played in both Queensland’s colts and Intrust Super Cup competitions for feeder club Redcliffe this year.
“Lingi and Kina are important to our future, great examples of young players who’ve come through our Sky Sport Future Warriors pathway to progress towards the NRL squad,” said Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George.
“They’ve come a long way this year from colts to first-grade level for Redcliffe and we see them going much further for us. They’re exciting prospects.”
The Kepu twins were among the Auckland-based players involved in the Vodafone Warriors’ pre-Christmas preseason training block last year before flying to Tamworth to train with the full squad in January this year.
“After training with us in Auckland and in Tamworth, Lingi and Kina moved to Brisbane with our other junior players to further their development with Redcliffe,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Nathan Brown.
“They’re big boys who have lots of promise and we were pleased to see them progress to the stage of playing in the Intrust Super Cup and acquitting themselves well.”
Born a few minutes apart either side of midday on August 23, 2002, the Kepu twins left home for the first time when they flew out to Tamworth in January.
After representing the New Zealand Residents 16s in 2018, they were prominent when the Vodafone Warriors made their first foray into the New South Wales Rugby League’s famed S G Ball Cup in early 2020.
They appeared in each of the first six games to help the Vodafone Warriors to third spot on the ladder before the Covid-19 outbreak halted the competition.
This year they were an impressive double act helping the Dolphins to the play-offs in the colts’ competition where they were beaten one game short of the grand final.
In 10 appearances Lingi scored six tries, averaged 130 metres and 16 tackles a game and made 35 tackle breaks. In 12 games, Kina scored four tries, averaged 124 metres and 15 tackles a game and made 31 tackle breaks.
At Intrust Super Cup level, Lingi played seven times for the Dolphins and Kina five times.