There is little doubt that the fullback jersey for the Queensland Maroons is one of the big selection points with teams just three weeks out from being named, and former Origin great Gorden Tallis has suggested loyalty will be a key part of the call for Billy Slater.
Intriguingly, Ponga has played just two games since Round 2, returning from concussion, however, he has moved to five-eighth this year.
By his own admission, his performance in the most recent Round 9 game against the Parramatta Eels was poor, but Tallis told Fox Sports that it was going to be Ponga who wears the number one for the Maroons.
“It'll be Ponga,” Tallis told foxsports.com.au.
“He won the series for them last year and starred in the decider.
“I think that Queensland has been really loyal over the years and the incumbents get an edge at selection time. The last time he (Ponga) wore the jersey he was man of the match and outstanding for Queensland.”
Meanwhile banging down the door for a spot in the squad is the Dolphins' Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, who Tallis thinks should also be given the chance to start in the side.
With one wing all but locked down by Selwyn Cobbo, the other remains a hot topic in the sunshine state, though Tallis believes 'Hammer' should be given first crack at the left wing, before the likes of Xavier Coates and Murray Taulagi.
The state legends' opinion leaving out Brisbane star Reece Walsh may come as something of a surprise, given his remarkably strong start to the season, being electrifying at the back for the Broncos.
Billy Slater will be facing a headache on just how important loyalty is, when he chooses between battle-tested Ponga or possible debutant Walsh, as well as whether to shake things up on the wing.