NSW Blues stalwart Stefano Utoikamanu will dedicate his first Origin game to his childhood mate and fellow NRL star who shocked the footballing world when he died after training aged just 20.
- Keith Titmuss died in November 2020 aged just 20
- Collapsed after a training session with the Sea Eagles
- The death has rocked the close-knit rugby league community
When Stefano Utoikamanu runs out for NSW on June 21, he won’t be intimidated by the parochial Queensland crowd at Suncorp Stadium.
Instead, giving it all in memory of his great mate, former Sea Eagles youngster Keith Titmuss, will be firmly in his mind.
In November 2020, Titmuss tragically died aged 20 following a non-contact pre-season training session at Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches.
The emerging striker collapsed and his condition rapidly deteriorated before he was pronounced dead at Royal North Shore Hospital.
Titmuss’ passing shook the Manly squad – and Utoikamanu, who was the rising star’s best friend, many predicted he was on the verge of achieving big things in the game.
When Stefano Utoikamanu runs out for NSW on June 21, he won’t be intimidated by the parochial Queensland crowd at Suncorp Stadium
Instead, he will focus on excellence for the Blues in memory of his great mate, former Sea Eagles youngster Keith Titmuss (pictured) who was just 20 when he died ago three years.
Utoikamanu has stood out for the Wests Tigers this season and will come off the bench for NSW
The duo represented the Cabramatta Two Blues in junior rugby league and attended school together at Westfield Sports High.
Utoikamanu was then ranked by the Eels, making his first-year debut in 2020, while Titmuss cut his teeth in the lower tiers with the Sea Eagles.
He scored the game-winning try for Manly in the 2017 New York Under-20 Grand Final, before being named Players Player of the Jersey Flegg Cup in 2019.
Tragedy then struck, leaving the rugby league community in disbelief.
“It’s so sad what happened to him,” said Utoikamanu News Corp.
‘We grew up together. You never know what is going to happen in life. He died so young, it’s a really sad story.
Utoikamanu, who has stood out for the Wests Tigers this season, has confirmed that he is “always thinking” of Titmuss and will “definitely be watching over me”.
“I will play (Origin II) for him and his family, I love them like brothers,” he added.
“I would have loved to play with him. I have no doubt he would have played a lot of games in the NRL. He was a gunslinger.