The New Zealand Warriors have added two junior talents to their top 30 squad for the 2023 NRL season.
Twins Otukinekina and Valingi Kepu have both been promoted to the Warriors' top 30 for 2023 and 2024, with the pair to spend 2022 on development deals.
At just 18 years of age, both brothers played in the Queensland Cup for the Redcliffe Dolphins last season, following successful runs in the SG Ball during 2020.
While the New South Wales Rugby League program has been cancelled or suspended for most of the last two seasons, they were able to play both junior and reserve grade football in Queensland last year thanks to the Warriors' deal with the Dolphins.
That deal has now expired with the Dolphins gearing up to enter the NRL from 2023.
Both players trained with the Warriors in Auckland ahead of 2021 before flying to Australia, with Otukinekina and Valingi both playing as props.
Coach Nathan Brown said they both showed lots of promise.
“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," Brown said.
The twins both impressed in their Queensland Cup hit outs, and have previously represented a New Zealand under-16s residents team in 2018.
Warriors' CEO Cameron George said both players were important for the club's future.
“Lingi and Kina are important to our future, great examples of young players who’ve come through our 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.”