NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 09: Kalyn Ponga of the Knights during the round 14 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Sydney Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium on June 9, 2018 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

Kalyn Ponga was destined for greatness from the beginning. Thrust into semi-final football upon his NRL debut, the 20-year-old Port Hedland product has already proven he can handle anything thrown his way; including State of Origin football.

Just 24 games into his first grade career, Ponga is ranked first this season amongst fullbacks for tackle breaks (85), line break assists (18), try assists (13) and line breaks (11).   

Ponga does have his detractors however; but it will be up to him to prove them wrong on the grandest stage of them all. Having overcome such adversity in his short career – including a life threatening brain infection in 2015 – if anyone can keep the series alive for the battling Maroons, it’s Ponga.

What role should he play in the side on Sunday? He needs to play in a position that doesn’t exist… and for a lengthy stint rather than the final 15 minutes of the match in a playmaking position and expecting him to win Queensland the match – which would only be setting him up to fail.

When Ponga hits the field, his role is to act as a roaming playmaker while defending alongside Felise Kaufusi on the right edge while Andrew McCullough defends in the lock position and Ben Hunt at hooker. Ponga may not have any front line experience but once again, he’s more than capable of handling anything thrown at him.

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This is otherwise known as throwing him onto the middle of the field and letting him play his own footy – much like how previous Queensland coaches Mal Menninga, Wayne Bennett and Michael Hagan would use their utilities such as the likes of Matt Bowen, Cooper Cronk, Daly Cherry-Evans, Michael Morgan, Paul Bowman and Karmichael Hunt – something current coach Kevin Walters hasn’t been able to fully grasp in his opening three series as head honcho.

Ponga possesses all the traits to succeed as a player atop the NRL’s echelon, not only physically but mentally too. From his coolness under pressure to his humility off the football field, the ‘Whizz Kid’ as they like to call him, has all the makings of a future poster boy of the game. Sunday night is only the beginning of a long representative career for the Newcastle Knights’ number one.

 

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. So much pressure is being heaped on this kid from both states in all forms of media. I am not saying that he sin’t up to it, but seriously, just let him go out and do his thing on Sunday night without the constant spotlight.

  2. Yeah I agree with you, but the way he’s playing it’s hard not too. Seems to me he has the right temperament & a good head on his shoulders to handle this sort of pressure anyway, as well as a good support group from what i hear. Nothing seems to faze this kid. When he makes a mistake, he doesn’t dwell on it or seem to let it effect him. I noticed in a couple of the in game interviews he’s had, they’ve tried to heap praise on his performance, but he was more focused on what he could do better. What I took from that is that he’s probably his own worst critic. I’m just ecstatic he plays for my club, it’s been pretty tough to watch these last few years.

    • Yeah, congrats man, it has been a long time coming but there’s a buzz about Newy this year and for your youngsters to play with the likes of pearcy, skd, CH, Jamie and Aiden is great.
      Your team is building well and have had some great wins already this year.
      👌👍👏

      • And PS.
        Ponga.
        Ive only seen about 12 games and fmd, livewire and so cool and calm for his age and already better than some of the touted superstar backs in the NRL.
        Im very impressed and i reckon Gus should make a play for him… ya cant keep them all man !! 😉

  3. Yeah I was a bit skeptical when Brown took over, but him and the board have made some great decisions with player recruitment.

    Lmao…. Unless he gets sick of Newy, he’ll be there for life. You guys don’t need him anyway, it’s always been like a factory when it comes to player development out in the mountains. When someone leaves, your mob just pulls another on off the production line.

    • he hasn’t even got the knights in the finals yet, saying he will be there for life is a big call.

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