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New Titans fullback Kini vows to honour Preston legacy

Joel GouldAAP
Gold Coast's diminutive new fullback Keano Kini will play with no fear against St George Illawarra. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconGold Coast's diminutive new fullback Keano Kini will play with no fear against St George Illawarra. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Keano Kini will play fullback for the Gold Coast against St George Illawarra with a determination to honour the legacy of club legend Preston Campbell.

The 19-year-old gets his chance in the home round-one clash on Saturday night due to a knee injury to Preston's son Jayden Campbell and the switch of AJ Brimon to centre.

It says plenty about Kini's appreciation for Titans history that he has inaugural club fullback Preston in his thoughts.

Preston was the club's most decorated No.1 in 103 NRL games in five seasons, as inspirational on the field as he was off it.

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He was the prime mover behind the All Stars concept, and has been a wonderful leader in Indigenous and educational fields in the community since his retirement.

"I am the generation after Preston Campbell, but I have seen all the highlights of him," Kini told AAP at the club's season launch last week.

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"He was a superstar fullback for a couple of clubs, but when he came to the Gold Coast he really kick-started a new generation for us.

"He is inspiring as an Indigenous leader. Him and JC (Jayden Campbell) are very similar.

"I find it a privilege to wear the jersey that Preston wore before me."

Preston was diminutive at 167cm and 76kg, but played with the heart of a lion.

Kini stands just 177cm and weighs 83kg, but he is not daunted by his stature.

"I have grown up my whole life with people saying I am too small and can't handle the physicality of the game, but being a small fella you have to back yourself," Kini said.

"I back everything I have. I am confident bro."

Kini, who played six NRL games in his rookie year last season, said he had been given a clear task by coach Des Hasler.

"I am just trying to step into JC's role and do my best. I am sure I will be ready," he said.

"(Hasler) keeps it simple. He just tells me to do my job and to be defensively sound. That is what I am working on this year. It is all about mentality and attitude.

"JC has earned the jersey. Unfortunately he is out injured. I am trying to come in and do a good job and keep this spot safe.

"He will probably come back and take it, but he has earned that. It is all up to Des."

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