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More to the story than Khan-Pereira's name bursting onto the Gold Coast scene

Andrew Mathieson -

Among the horde of young devotees that swarm at the sight of Alofiana Khan-Pereira, their spirit and passion they display towards their newest Gold Coast fan favourite at the club's Indigenous day could easily be mistaken for a vibe of his own.

Except the idolising is now coming from the other side of the fence, overwhelming the rookie flyer for an autograph and a selfie rather than being that once Keebra Park State High School student that once chased down the adulation.

After all, the 22-year-old grew up and remained a Titans supporter from day dot until this season when he flipped that on its side to be more of a bona fide NRL star of the Gold Coast.

Even after signing to a development contract with his boyhood club way back in 2018, Khan-Pereira could never imagine what heights he would scale in the past 12 months alone.

"I still can't believe I'm an NRL player and the massive impact I have on some of the kids," Khan-Pereria told the Titans club website.

"It's still pretty crazy to me and I think I'm still mellowing into it.

"Everything has hit me in the face so quickly and I haven't really embraced it yet.

"I just need to keep doing my job and just keep turning up."

But no one would begrudge Khan-Pereira about still coming to terms with his new-found stardom after a stellar start to what looks to be a promising NRL career.

This was arguably most evident during the Titans' postponed NAIDOC event that was held off for months on end following inclement weather in the first week of July.

The proud Bundjalang man stood there on Friday, undoubtedly one of the most popular players – black or white – after the Titans squad regathered from a solid block of preseason training.

Khan-Pereira was open to admit the occasion in Mudgeeraba, on the outskirt of the Gold Coast region, brought back some of his fondest childhood memories.

"It's always a special event to come down here and celebrate my culture, see the mob and get around each other," he said.

"I actually remember coming down to NAIDOC day, as a kid, and seeing a couple of NRL players and wishing that I was them, giving out hats and signing autographs.

"Now that the tables have turned, it's just a buzz to be honest and very awesome.

"I'm very blessed."

But there's more to the story than just the ambitious dreams of a goofy kid, who wanted to grow up to be the footy hero.

The talented prospect, who carries Pakistani and Sri Lankan heritage in his hyphenated surname, came to prominence in the same nationwide schoolboy cup-winning team as David Fifita seven years ago.

But despite giving the ball-running Titans forward a career head start of 84 NRL matches before running out for his very first appearance in round 1 of 2023, Khan-Pereira was keen to prove that the wait has been worth it.

By just the end of round 4 this year, the winger had somehow found the line five times already like a wise veteran.

But that stellar beginning was spotted in the works a little more than a month earlier after scoring four tries in a preseason clash against NRL newcomers, the Dolphins.

At season's end, Khan-Pereira scored 20 times from 24 fixtures to finish inside the top 10 league tryscorers – more than Selwyn Cobbo, Brian To'o or Xavier Coates this year.

The newest household name in rugby league circles broke the club's scoring record in another whirlwind performance after his breakout season the year before at the Burleigh Bears that featured 25 tries in just 19 games, including three or more tries in any game on five separate occasions.

"I'm hoping to definitely score more next year," Khan-Pereira said with a cheeky smirk.

"I just want to keep working on the one percenters and there's things I can do off the footy as well.

"So I guess I'll just have to show everyone what I can do next year."

Khan-Perreira had been named in the final squad of the NIT Indigenous Team of Year, coming off the bench as one of the reserve backs.


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