2018 recruit Kalyn Ponga admits the hype surrounding the upcoming trial match in Maitland against the Parramatta Eels is amazing.
At 6,500 capacity, Maitland’s No.1 Sportsground has sold out in what will be the first chance for fans and Members to watch their new look team play in the flesh.
19-year-old Ponga, who will take up the number one jersey, maintains the support shown so far has been amazing.
“I’m not too surprised, we had the Community Season Launch the other day and it was a good turnout,” Ponga told Knights TV.
“Just by talking to the fans, they’re eager to watch us play and to get behind us, so I’m not surprised by how many people are getting down (to Maitland).
“It’s exciting and overwhelming for me but I’ve met the fans, they’re awesome and loyal, so I’m excited about Saturday.”
Following on from the Melbourne trial, Ponga says they will need to be patient and continue to work on their newest combinations.
“It has been a strenuous pre-season and we’ve been working hard on our combinations.
“We’re slowly building, we’ve still got a long way to go but I’m happy with where we are and hopefully after the trial leading into Round 1, we can work on them even more.”
The fullback has only come up against the Eels once in his NRL career, but predicts they’ll have the same fire power right across the park.
“They’re a pretty strong team being a top four team last year,” he said.
“They’ve got strike all over the park, some big bodies and they’ve got two halves who are very creative and elusive.
“It’s going to be a tough ask, but we’ll take care of our own backyard and hopefully we’ll get the win and can work towards Round 1.”
Defence is where Ponga feels the game will be won.
“We’re still working on a few little things but a lot of what we need to be working on is effort, holding the ball, ball control and completing because I think if you defend well, you can win games on the back of that,” Ponga stated.
The young fullback maintains he’ll be putting in his best performance to ensure he’s there in the number one spot come Round 1.
“I’m still working pretty hard with (Dylan) Phythian coming back in about a week, (Nick) Meaney is working hard, everyone is working pretty hard,” explained Ponga.
“There are probably a couple of people that have lodged their spot, but I’m still working hard and who knows what will happen in Round 1, it’s up to Browny (Nathan Brown) so I’ll do my best to get in that team.
“I think it will come around a lot quicker than what we expect it to and hopefully I can get in that team.”