Kalyn Ponga has turned plenty of heads since joining the nib Newcastle Knights.

He's found a fan in Knights legend Kurt Gidley.

Speaking about the fullback on the Our Town Our Team podcast, Gidley acknowledged the flashy plays of brilliance but it's something the average league fan wouldn't notice that's really caught his eye.

While there's plenty to like about Ponga's game, what Gidley admires most won't make the highlight reel.

"His toughness to start with," Gidley said.


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"He's a wonderful player. Speed, footwork, ball skills and the way he's setting up teammates around him

"As a young bloke, I admire his toughness above all of it.

"I don't know a lot about Kalyn before this year there was a lot of talk around him last year and it was probably a gamble for the club but a gamble that's paid off.

"After watching him in the first half of the year, I admire his toughness and humbleness."


Having capped off a stellar State of Origin debut by starring in the middle for Queensland, Ponga has shown he's capable of playing any role required of him.

As a ball playing fullback, it has been speculated Ponga could move into the halves later in his career.

While Gidley doesn't question Ponga's ability, he'd like to see the livewire stay in the No.1 for some time to come.

"Any good fullback, there's always this path that leads to the halves," Gidley explained.

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"That can be a good thing or a not so good thing. I know (Darren Lockyer) Locky was a great fullback and sort of got moved into the halves for his ball playing

"I remember he was under pressure at the time and they were talking he wasn't going to get picked for Queensland. I was thinking 'how can you question this guy?' and sure enough, he kicks again.

"I used to love him at fullback. I loved the way he ran the ball. He was probably getting a bit older and perhaps the length of running he was going to be doing at fullback wasn't going to be beneficial to him?

"We've got so many great fullbacks. I don't want to see all of them go into a halves position, maybe until the end of their career when they can't keep up with the k's."