Season review: Kalyn Ponga

It was a season to remember for nib Newcastle Knights live-wire Kalyn Ponga.

He was a revelation for the team in 2018.

In his first full season in the NRL, Ponga took the rugby league world by storm with several personal milestones and achievements.

He played 20 NRL games, scoring six tries and kicking 27 goals.


Ponga's brilliant attacking game was on full display throughout the season, running for 2837 metres at an average of 141.9 metres per game.

The exciting fullback proved to be a handful for opposing teams, finishing the season as the NRL's leader in average tackle breaks per game with seven.

In Ponga's first game in the red and blue, he was able to score with just his second touch of the football.
Ponga was then selected to make his State of Origin debut for Queensland in Game two of the series.


He came off the bench, and in 52 minutes of play, Ponga impressed, making 29 tackles in the middle of the field and running for 108 metres.

Ponga's stellar season was recognised by his peers when he won the RLPA Players' Champion. He is the youngest player to win the award.

The accolades didn't stop there when he won both the Danny Buderus medal for the best Player of the Year and the Knights Players' Player at the Knights Award Night.


Ponga came close to becoming the third Knights players to win the prestigious Dally M Award when he finished just two points behind winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

2018 Moment of the Year: Round 1 v Manly 

He scored length of the field tries, dazzled opposition defences, and made his debut for Queensland in State of Origin but it was a magic play in Round 1 which had Knights fans talking.


We had witnessed his brilliant attacking ability, but it was an effort in defence which left us speechless.

Ponga found himself defending next to the play-the-ball as Manly were attacking the Knights line.
Manly shifted the ball to the right and Ponga started to make his move.

He covered incredible ground as Manly strung together passes towards the right edge.

Ex-Knight, Akulia Uate was unmarked on the wing but Ponga kept working and put his body on the line in attempt to stop the hulking winger from scoring.

He threw himself at Uate in the corner, making him drop the ball, saving an almost certain four-pointer.


In a tight game where the Knights won by one point, it was a moment that really inspired Newcastle for the rest of the game.

It will go down as one of the best try-saving tackles of the season.

2018 season stats:

Games: 20
Avg running metres: 141.9m
Tackles made: 105 (67.4% efficiency)
Tries: 6
Try assists: 11
Line breaks: 12
Offloads: 11
Tackle breaks: 140