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Pearce: Why added pressure is no issue for Ponga

Is the nib Newcastle Knights skipper worried about Kalyn Ponga suffering from the dreaded 'second year syndrome'?

Definitely not.

It was a stellar 2018 season for Knights rising star Ponga, who took home the RLPA Player's Champion award and finished runners up in the Dally M.

With high expectation on the 20-year-old, Mitchell Pearce believes he can improve on the season he just had.


"For me, it's just trying to get this club with so much rich history back on track."

"I think with Kalyn, he has a really clear head," Pearce said on the Big Sports Breakfast.

"He's got a good ability to also read the game and he's got a good feel for moments and that's very rare at that age.

"I think he'll be alright this year and I think he'll handle anything that comes his way purely because he understands footy."

Recovering from off-season ankle surgery, there's been talk that Ponga will suit up alongside the Knights skipper in the halves, pushing Connor Watson to fullback.

"The intensity is at an all-time high."

Pearce is excited about the prospect of building a combination with the excitement machine.

"He's as good as a player I've seen at that age. He was very impressive last year," Pearce said.

"It's not just the way he plays footy, it's the way he holds himself. He's got the personality to own the game for the next 12-years.

"I'm just glad I get to play with him, whether it's in the halves or he's at fullback.

"To build a combination with him for the next few years, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."