Reds halfback Richard Kingi.
Reds halfback Richard Kingi.

Former scaffolder on a high with Wallabies

JUST one year ago Richard Kingi was working 12-hour shifts as a scaffolder and playing rugby part time.

Fast forward a year and the Reds halfback has already been on an end of season tour with the Wallabies, played two Super 14 games for Queensland and has now set himself the goal of keeping the pressure on current Australian halfback Will Genia.

The 20-year-old Redbank Plains resident is a senior Reds squad member this year after moving up from the QAS Reds Academy.

After being given a chance in the Super 14s last year when the Reds were hit by injury, Kingi’s talent caught the attention of Wallaby coach Robbie Deans and he soon found himself on the plane for Europe.

It sure beats scaffolding.

“It was pretty hectic when I was scaffolding,” Kingi said.

“Some of the days were 12-hour shifts and I was doing it for over a year but it was all for a good cause. You have to put food on the table for the family. I’ve got three kids so I’ve got to look after them

“Everything happened really quick for me. I got a call from one of the coaches at the Reds and he said I was in contention to be picked for the Wallabies. I was just blown away at the time.

“But it was a good experience to get over there and see what rugby is all about.”

Genia will be the first choice number nine for the Reds in 2010 but Kingi’s strong form in the opening trial game against the Waratahs will keep the pressure on.

It is most likely that Kingi will be utilised off the bench as the back-up half but he won’t die wondering. The rising talent said he intends to push Genia all the way in what will be music to coach Ewen McKenzie’s ears.

“I’m just trying to put my best forward and hopefully I can get the number one (halfback) spot on the field or be somewhere on the bench,” he said.

“I’ve got the best challenge - to be playing under the top halfback in Australia and keep pushing him to keep that number one spot.

“I played the full 80 minutes against NSW which was awesome. It was fun and good to get that sort of time on the field and some combinations going before the season starts.”

The New Zealand-born Kingi, who played league and union as a junior, has excellent vision on the field and said his days spent out wider have helped his development since switching to the halfback role.

“I went to school at Keebra Park on the Gold Coast where they played rugby league but I played union for a club called the Nerang Bulls and I got picked up from there,” he said.

“I was a five-eighth in rugby league and played there (at number 10) in union. I only made the change to halfback last year, but having the skills from another position and taking it into half is a bonus for me.”

The Reds continue their pre-season trial campaign on Friday night against the Crusaders at Ballymore.

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