If social media is known for one thing, it is calm and well thought through responses to Rugby League.
As usual, after Friday night’s season-opening game of Rugby League, twitter and facebook are again right on the ball in their condemnation of Kalyn Ponga.
The 20-year-old fullback turn five-eighth had a below-par 40 (ish) minutes in a one-off game, playing with an unfamiliar side in a pre-season friendly.
If I were a Knights fan I’d be looking for early bird Bali specials, cause the 2019 season is over before it even started.
With the return of rugby league comes the return to over-reactive rugby league Twitter and Facebook.
The reaction to Ponga’s decent yet unspectacular game on Friday night was ridiculous yet utterly hilarious.
I’m usually the first to jump on the overreaction bandwagon. After an awful debut at five-eighth in round one in 2015, I wrote Anthony Milford off.
Tweeted that I thought Bennett had lost it by moving the star fullback into the halves.
Brisbane, of course, made the Grand Final that year on the back of a brilliant season in the halves by Milford.
He has since become one of the game’s elite five-eights and has games for Queensland in the halves.
Newcastle fans, needless to say, I wouldn’t be worried re Ponga’s switch into the halves based on one performance. I don’t think any level headed fan would be.
The Ponga move is going to take time. The 20-year-old has played his entire career at fullback, via his NRL debut in the outside backs to due injuries elsewhere.
Darryn Lockyer didn’t become one of the game’s best ever five-eighths overnight following his shift from fullback, and he had many seasons experience on the Knights youngster.
I realise most of the criticism of Ponga from Friday night was tongue in cheek but there were some very real, and worrying, comments made across the social media platforms.
Some simply suggested Ponga’s best position was at fullback. Fair shout.
Others suggested that Ponga is wasting his talents with the move. Tad harsh.
Others even went as far as to suggest Ponga was obviously playing for a release to play rugby. Wish I had screen capped that one before it was deleted.
Off one game. In pre-season. With a side that had been practically thrown together following pre-season training.
I’m willing to call it now. Ponga will be a success in his move into the halves. He’s simply too talented not to. His game currently lends itself to a move into the halves.
That said, it will take time.
Calls that all he has to do is stay fit and he’ll win the Dally M medal seem a bit premature.
It could happen. He came within a game of winning last year’s medal in his first full season in the top grade. He missed a few games via injury too.
Ponga is on a fast track to becoming the face of the game. He comes across as very humble yet confident. The perfect mix for a superstar in the making.
He had a brilliant Origin debut out of position for Queensland last year. He played hooker and lock and defended in the front line for the entire game.
He almost turned the momentum in the game and series, with his first real involvement.
You’d be far braver, and probably stupider, than myself (I think that makes sense) to write him off when it comes to a massive positional switch.
I personally think Newcastle are a far more dangerous side with Ponga and Pearce in the halves, just not right off the bat.
He could very well come out and blow the Sharks off the park in game one of the Newcastle season. Then again he may not.
Even if he has a shocker I’m a huge believer that the switch will pay huge dividends in the long-term.
Most Newcastle fans laughed off the criticism from Friday night.
With all due respect to Tyrone Roberts, he was best on the ground on Friday night in attack but I don’t see him in the top three or four options in the halves for the Titans. Underrated player, but this was a pre-season game.
Ponga has all the talent in the world and a very experienced, Premiership winning half by his side. He’s got some weapon centres and a monster forward pack.
I can’t see any way this move into the halves doesn’t pay off.
Then again he didn’t win the man of the match in a pre-season game. Sooooooo Newcastle should probably start booking Mad Monday ASAP.