SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES - JUNE 24: Kalyn Ponga of the Maroons offloads the ball during game two of the State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on June 24, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Kalyn Ponga has shot to NRL stardom in 2018, announcing himself as one of the competition's premier fullbacks. Yet, after his starring role for Queensland in Game II, it seems his positional future isn't set in stone.

The odds of Ponga claiming the 'Dally M Fullback of the Year' accolade at season's end are shortening with every game he plays, but regardless of whether he takes out the award or not, what number he wears on his back in the coming years is anyone's guess.

The former Cowboy came off the bench for the Maroons in the 28th minute of Game II, and played the entire remaining 52 minutes of the match - at lock.

In theory it seems ridiculous, to throw a 20-year-old fullback, a position that makes the least amount of tackles per game, into the middle third, and hand him one of the biggest defensive loads on the park.

But to Ponga's credit, not only did handle the surprise shift with class, he was arguably Queensland's best forward.

Despite having only made 64 tackles in his 15 NRL games this year, Ponga managed to make 30 in less than an hour in his maiden State of Origin match, and certainly proved he had what it takes to defend in the line.

Ever since Darren Lockyer did it, there has been a love affair in rugby league when it comes to switching fullbacks into the five-eighth role. Matt Moylan springs to mind, while Anthony Milford, Lachlan Coote, Michael Morgan and Connor Watson have all flirted the line.

But Ponga could leave them in the dust if he was to switch to the halves at some point in his career.

When people hear the name 'Kalyn Ponga', they think of the footwork, the pace, probably the headgear. But the trait that stands the custodian on a tier above all other rookies in the NRL is his vision. It's like he can read the opposition, three plays ahead of them. Place him into the defensive line, and his game grows stronger.

Whether it be rushing up in defence to shut down an attacking raid, or snatching an intercept in mid air and streaking away to score down field, it just adds another dimension to his already brilliant arsenal.

If you're worried the added defensive workload would fatigue Ponga's attacking game, then fear not. The livewire still managed to run for 108 metres, including a linebreak that nearly resulted in four points, as well as a few offloads for good measure in his Origin cameo.

No matter if he's playing fullback or front-row, Ponga is a bona fide star with infinite potential, and a long career in Maroon to come.

Comments are closed.