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Double act eyes the big stage

Posted: 1pm 28 Jul 2021

The Kepu twins have played rugby league together since they were in under-15s, progressing to the Warriors academy system and making the journey across the ditch to learn what they can from the Dolphins this year.

Each is aware of where the other twin is on the field and there’s a ‘magic’ that happens, when they find their rhythm.

Peesi Valingi Pasi (Lingi) Kepu and Otukinekina-He-Tofonga (Kina) Kepu says playing together is important to them and the reason Lingi made the switch from rugby union to league in under-15s.

“I went to watch Kina one day and I found it more fun because it was fast compared to union. I enjoyed it and I felt it would be way better if we played together. It felt weird not having him next to me when I was playing,” Lingi explains.

Both twins scored tries in their Colts debut for the Dolphins at Moreton Daily Stadium against the Capras earlier this year and have made a successful transition to the Intrust Super Cup side.

Lingi has scored twice – his first in his second Cup game against Wynnum and again against the Jets during Country Round at Quilpie.

Kina scored his first Intrust Super Cup try for the Dolphins against the Capras in the side’s 30-24 win in Rockhampton on July 25 during the postponed round 12 match.

Learning life skills

Before this year, the 18-year-olds from the southside of Auckland had never lived away from home, let alone in a different country.

It has been a big adjustment, made easier by doing it together and with the support of Dolphins’ Football Operations Manager Steve Crawford and his partner Roimata and their teammates.

“I just love meeting new people and to test myself against different players and work under different coaches and learn what they’ve experienced from their coaching and the games they’ve played,” Kina says.

“Meeting new people is the best part about it, especially Roimata and Steve Crawford. They’ve taken us into their home – it’s just like helps especially being away from home. We’re grateful for everything.”

Lingi agrees: “If I didn’t meet Roimata and Sticksy (Crawford), I probably would have gone back home by now. There’s a lot of things … kids come over and don’t understand there’s a lot of things that you have to do in order to stay here and live.

“There have been a couple of challenges since we came here. Firstly, leaving family behind, especially mum and dad. I remember leaving the airport, I looked back and my heart just broke because I was leaving them for the first time.”

Special moment

Lingi was a late call-up for his debut for the Intrust Super Cup side against Norths and says, at first, he didn’t believe it.

“I didn’t know it was a real big deal, but as I started hearing stories I was like this is actually happening. What hit me the most is I saw my number, my Dolphin number. I went home after that game and thought ‘wow I’m number 790’,” he says.

It was not long before Kina earned his own Dolphin number (799).

“There’s a couple of boys who have helped out a lot especially being here, it’s new for us. On my first day, I remember Tyson (Cleal) came up to me and made me feel welcome like I was at a normal club back home. He’s given me some advice that’s helped me in my games,” Kina says.

Lingi says Cleal had also helped him improve his game, but Shane Pumipi has helped in a different way.

“He just came up to us and gave us real life experiences because he’s actually been at the top level and just for him to pass it on to the young boys it helps us more, so we can understand that what happens off the field will impact what happens on the field,” he says.

Both are keen to play in the NRL, if there’s an opportunity to do so, but know they have plenty to learn and that they are in the right place to hone their skills.

“I’d actually like to play some more games with Cup, just because before the experience comes along I want to learn more. That way, if I hit the next level, I’ll be able to play naturally. Just to be able to represent my family too. That would be one of the big ones as well,” Lingi says.

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