Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga has determined his representative future in rugby league.
Despite being heavily pursued by New Zealand, Ponga chose to allow himself to be eligible for Australia and Queensland.
The Newcastle prodigy has been named in a Queensland emerging squad, a group of eleven players who will ultimately be nurtured into possible future origin representatives.
The program has proved to be a success since it’s establishment in 2001 by Wayne Bennett. Eight players involved in this year’s program made their Origin debuts.
With Queensland’s benchmark spine unsettled, following Thurston and Cronk’s origin retirement, the Maroons are on the lookout for a new batch of superstars who can fill the void.
And haven’t they got some options? Ash Taylor, Kalyn Ponga and Corey Norman are all possible young halves who can strap on the boots for Queensland in the near future.
Currently leading the race are Michael Morgan, Cameron Munster and Anthony Milford, while Darius Boyd will almost certainly replace Bill Slater out the back after his retirement.
“With the smaller numbers, it lets the Origin team staff spend more time with the individuals and the players can also spend more time with each other,” Walters told Fox Sports.
“Corey Norman is a player who has been on our horizon for some years and we feel the time is right to bring him in.
“He gained a lot of maturity with his football this past season.
“I have spoken to Kalyn and he has indicated that he wants to be part of the Queensland pathways which is very exciting for Kalyn and very exciting for the Queensland Rugby League.
“He is a player of the future so it is good news for Maroons fans that he has confirmed his allegiance with us.”