Star Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga has vowed to fight for his spot in the 2024 State of Origin series after sitting out of last year's campaign.

Ponga's finish to the 2023 season was something special as he dragged his Newcastle side off the canvas, taking them from the bottom four halfway through the season to the top eight, where they hosted an elimination final, beating the Canberra Raiders in a thriller and then falling in Auckland to the New Zealand Warriors at semi-final time.

The star fullback missed much of the first half of the season though, sitting out with concussion related issues which at one point forced him to the United States of America for treatment and were seemingly threatening his career.

Those threats haven't gone away, but getting through the second half of the season without incident is a positive sign for the headgear-wearing star.

Upon his return, he sat out of the Origin series, instead having Reece Walsh excel on debut for Billy Slater's exceptional Queensland team who won the series in straight sets, before losing the dead rubber in Sydney.

But Ponga, speaking on Triple M, said he has every intention to take his Queensland spot back.

"I do want to put myself forward for Queensland this year," Ponga told Triple M Newcastle's Tanya and Steve on Wednesday.

"Hopefully we can have another good season here and I can play Origin."

It means the Port Hedland-born fullback will enter a two-way race with Walsh for the number one jersey.

However, he will not be representing the Maori All Stars this year. Despite playing for the New Zealand Indigenous side previously, he said his focus heading into this year is to be ready for the season with Newcastle.

"It's a special game for both cultures, and I've been lucky enough to be a part of it for three series now," he said.

"But I want to focus on the Knights and get myself right for the season."

One of the game's highest-paid players, his sitting out of the All Stars game likely means he will instead make the trip to Fiji with his teammates to clash with the Melbourne Storm in a historic pre-season trial, before the Knights open their season at home against last year's elimination final opponent in Canberra on March 7, which will be the first game for points played on Australian soil this year.


  1. Well let hope billy stay loyal to the blokes that won the origin, I think unlucky 4 ponga but he step aside so U should just wait your turn. Recce Walsh killed it and should b there 4 as long as he keeps playing good footy, Ponga your a New Zealander anyway U should b first pick before a Queensland boy. U would play a good 14 because U can play in different positions, and b dangerous off the bench r the blues.

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