Richard Kingi: raised on backyard bruises
Bruising backyard battles with his three brothers mean Wallabies bolter Richard Kingi has no fears about running into the hard men of northern hemisphere rugby on the upcoming spring tour.
Kingi, 20, was arguably the most surprising of the seven uncapped choices in the 35-man Australian squad for the tour of Japan and the United Kingdom.
One of three 20-year-old backs in the squad along with NSW duo Kurtley Beale and Rob Horne, Kingi has very little senior experience.
An Australian under-20 and sevens representative, the New Zealand-born halfback has made just two Super 14 appearances off the bench for Queensland.
He is not even on the senior Reds roster for next year, just an Academy contract, though it’s believed new coach Ewen McKenzie could review the youngster’s status.
What he lacks in senior experience he makes up for in toughness, mainly due to the schooling he got from his siblings.
Even before moving to Australia with his family at the age of 15, he was used to copping knocks.
Long before he joined the Wallabies, Kingi was hurtling around the backyward with his older brothers Niheta and Heperi and younger sibling Rauru, as they grew up in Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty.
“I have two older brothers and they used to rough me up when I was younger,” Kingi told reporters.
“You can say on the rugby field that you learn rugby, but mate, nothing compares to backyard footy with your brothers.
“That’s where you get your older brothers running at you and you’re tackling them, you’re fearless when it comes against the Jonah Lomu-like people, it’s just easy.”
Kingi showed his willingness to mix it in the Wallabies intra-squad hitout in Sydney last Thursday, where he spent time in the unfamiliar position of wing and also picked up some scrapes.
“I love the battle scars, it means that you’ve got in there and done the business,” Kingi said.
He said he played for his family and that the brothers described themselves as “the Four Kings” and his mother had told him his talent would get him places.
At 20, he already has plenty of responsibility with a fiancee and three young children aged three, 21 months and 10 months and has worked outide rugby as a scaffolder.
“I am a family man. You do what you have to do for the money to look after your family,” said Kingi.
New Wallabies vice-captain Berrick Barnes has been impressed with Kingi’s approach.
“Richard Kingi is a great story, he supports the whole family with his rugby and he’s doing a great job,” said Barnes.
Kingi performed well enough at this year’s IRB Junior World Championship to make the shortlist for its Junior Player of the Year.
Described as a “wildcard” with potential by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, Kingi will start the seven-game tour behind Test incumbent Will Genia and Luke Burgess.
Kingi said he intended to “soak up” and learn as much as he could from the Wallabies tour, where his best chance of playing would appear to be the two mid-week non-Test matches.
“Just try my best and learn as much as I can and show not only Robbie (Deans) but everyone around the world I am here to do the deed,” Kingi said.
Kingi said he was shocked by his selection while his fiancee screamed loudly in a mall.
“Everyone was probably looking at her going `what is she on? Has she won Lotto or something?’ But she was just so proud,” Kingi said.© AAP 2013
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