AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 10: Kalyn Ponga of the Knights looks on during warmup prior to the round 22 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights at Mt Smart Stadium on August 10, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Kalyn Ponga has addressed his now infamous comments from last season, after he was quoted as saying that playing for the All Blacks would be the “pinnacle” of his playing career. 

Ponga confirmed to the Former Origin Greats website his words were taken out of context, and says he’s quite pleased with how is rugby league career is tracking.

“The question I was asked that day (by TVNZ) was, that if I was to play rugby, would I want to play for the All Blacks, and I just answered the question by saying ‘yes, who wouldn’t?’” Ponga told fogs.com.au.

“But if you watched the whole interview, it was about my family and our New Zealand heritage, so it was taken out of context a little bit.

“The reality is I’m very happy in rugby league.”

The 20-year-old had a breakout year in 2018 and finished second in the Dally M Medal count, as he became not only the best young player in the game, but one of the most talented men in the competition.

Ponga is intent on finding himself in the Maroons’ side on a permanent basis, and is happy to fill whatever position is needed by Queensland coach Kevin Walters at any given time.

“The fullback spot would be great this year, especially with Billy Slater retiring, but honestly I will play anywhere. I just want to wear that Maroon jumper again,” Ponga said.

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The young Knight also touched on his impending move from fullback to five-eighth for Newcastle this season, and says he’ll draw on his Maroons debut for inspiration.

“You don’t really know if you can do something until you do it,” Ponga added.

“I didn’t think I could handle playing the minutes I did in Origin and I managed to do it, so hopefully I can surprise myself again.”

10 COMMENTS

  1. Again another media beat up that only takes snippets from a story to make the person out like a defector that would jump ship

  2. Plenty of hype around Ponga, I get the feeling though that with the move to 5/8, it will dull him a bit. Front line defence is going to be a lot different to defending out the back, there will be a lot of big edge forwards running at him and the extra defence may take the edge off him. A break out year in first grade doesn’t guarantee you will be a star of the game, plenty have proven that in the past. Teams will have put hours into breaking his game down, he’ll be closer to the ruck in attack, some big hits coming his way. I just don’t see him having the same impact again this year but I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

  3. coastal01, you make great points there and I couldn’t agree more.
    While I think Ponga has a lot of potential, talent and passion for the game I thought he was a bit overrated by the pundits last year , as they tend to do.
    One of the things that really made him stand out was being a bit of a star in a lack lustre team like the Knights. Anyone who tried hard in that loser team would sure to be a standout.
    His Origin debut wasn’t all that great. Let’s be honest, he tried, but he made quite a few errors and he just wasn’t as great as he was made out to be.
    He’s not the best try scorer at the Knights, he’s not a future Slater, he’s not a future Thurston, he’s just a young kid who had a promising year with hopefully a good playing future in front of him.
    Let’s wait and see what that future brings.

    And PLEASE can you journalists stop saying he came second in winning the Dally M. His name seems to be synonymous with the Daily M and yet it WAS WON BY RTS! Give Roger the credit he’s due and stop giving it to the also ran.

  4. All I know is, if they are going to harp on about Ponga like they do, he’d want to be winning games for the Knights.. but the truth is, when Pearce was out, they did not win one from memory

    • I think you’re all wrong. He is just a kid. Pushed into 5/8th from fullback, when the Knights had a lot of players out. Still set up breaks & scored tries from 5/8th. One of the most talented players to come along in a long time. Someone who could actually be called ‘ Brilliant ‘ & a huge future ahead of him. As he’s just going to get even better with experience. No matter what you say, you all know your teams would give whatever amount to have him on their rosters.

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