Raised in South Auckland’s Ōtara, 22-year-old Josiah Karapani made his NRL debut for the Brisbane Broncos last knight.

Reece Walsh’s knee injury opened the door for Karapani to make his long-awaited debut, with the young gun starting in the centres for Brisbane in Magic Round after Selwyn Cobbo switched to fullback.

The young debutante shared, “I only got the call-up yesterday, but I had to take it [the opportunity]

“It means a lot especially having my family behind me watching me play for the first time since I moved to Australia, it’s the best feeling.”

An Otahuhu Leopards junior, Karapani was a standout player in the Auckland Rugby League age-group competitions throughout his younger years, earning Counties Manukau and New Zealand Rugby League representative selections.

Karapani participated in the 2019 NZRL Talent Development Programme, then featured in the first-ever 18s New Zealand Clubs team in 2020.

Josiah Karapani playing for the New Zealand 18s Clubs team v New Zealand 18s Schools team, 2020.

 

The talented back was first scooped up by the Warriors for their SG Ball Cup squad during the COVID pandemic in 2020, before making the move across the ditch to the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

From 2021-2023 he solidified himself as a mainstay in the Rabbitohs SG Ball Cup squad, eventually moving up into the Jersey Flegg and New South Wales Cup squads before the age of 21.

He came extremely close to making his debut with the Sydney club, if not for an untimely serious illness.

Joining the Broncos in the recent off-season, Karapani initially signed on a train-and-trial contract but was upgraded into the club’s top 30 squad after impressing in the pre-season.

Karapani has been plying his trade for feeder team Burleigh Bears in the Queensland Cup, crossing for six tries in eight appearances so far this season.

He was due to enjoy a week off with the Bears on a bye, but has now achieved a career dream on one of the biggest stages in the game.

Coach Walters noted how excited he was for Karapani ahead of his debut at Magic Round this Friday, citing how the youngster had earned his chance after impressing in reserve grade.

“He’s really accelerated his form over recent weeks, he’s got speed and a great attitude and deserves his opportunity,” Walters said.