WALLABIES rookie Richard Kingi is hardly an imposing figure – even among his fellow halfbacks. But thanks to the years of mauling he received playing backyard footy with his elder brothers, he will never shy from taking on ”Jonah Lomu-like people” in a one-on-one tackle.Kingi has courage and strength that belies his 176cm height and 77.5kg weight – in a head-to-head with Lomu at his peak Kingi would give away 20cm and 37.5kg.And as he prepared to join his new Wallabies teammates tomorrow for their final training camp before leaving for their end-of-season tour on October 24, the 20-year-old Queenslander revealed many of his yet-to-be-appreciated traits were picked up during childhood.Kingi, one of seven uncapped players in the 35-man Wallabies squad, recalled with affection how his two elder brothers, Niheta and Heperi, ”used to rough me up” on the ad-hoc playing ground that became the backyard of their home in Te Puke, near Bay of Plenty in New Zealand where he lived.Kingi looks back with fondness on those days where the three boys and younger brother Rauru proudly called themselves ”The Four Kings”.”It’s out on the rugby field that you learn your rugby, but nothing compares to backyard footy with your brothers,” he said. ”That is when you get your older brothers running at you. Tackling them … mate, you’re fearless. When it comes against the Jonah Lomu-like people, it’s easy.”They are brave words for any Wallabies greenhorn, let alone one who will come up against towering forwards during the grand slam leg of the tour that includes Tests against England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland – plus two midweek games in which he will likely feature.The first midweek clash is against Gloucester, in between the October 31 Test against the All Blacks in Tokyo and the first against England in London.So, is Kingi apprehensive about playing in the cold and bog of an England paddock? Is he worried about the forwards who will try to face-plant anyone in their way?”No way, you can’t. Not when you are wearing the green and gold jumper,” Kingi said with a smile.Kingi is not one the Gloucester club should underestimate. A former Rotorua Boys High School student, Kingi first played rugby league after moving to Australia and the Gold Coast in Queensland at the age of 15. He soon took up rugby union and made the Queensland under-16s and in time was discovered by Australian Sevens coach Michael O’Connor.And while playing for Australia in this year’s IRB Sevens series, Kingi, who moved to halfback this year after playing at five-eighth and inside-centre, showed that with his strength and guile he also has skills and speed – attributes that helped him become the fourth-highest point scorer of the competition.”Sevens has developed my football more than I could have imagined [with] the vision, the rucks,” Kingi said. ”Normally backs don’t get into rucks, but in Sevens that’s what you have got to be able to do. You’ve got to do everything. You’ve got to be able to run, you’ve got to be able to pass from the ground, you’ve got to be able to clean out. It’s awesome.”Kingi’s pride for the jersey he wears – whether it be with the Queensland Reds with whom he has an academy contract, or Australia – is matched only by his pride for who he represents. And that is his family, says Kingi, who is the cousin of New Zealand Maori captain and Chiefs openside flanker Tanerau Latimer.While only 20, Kingi and his partner, Sharna, already have three children – son Destyn, 3, and daughters Jyahti, who is 21 months, and Kudan, who is 10 months. Kingi has not forgotten the advice of his Australian under-20s coach, Brian Melrose, who reminded him of the importance of that pride.”He said you play for who you are. He asked me: ‘Who do you play for?’ I play for my family. That’s the biggest advice anyone has given me.”
Nanjing Night Net

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