We all know how good Kalyn Ponga is.
The step, the pace, the cover defence. He has it all.
But according to team (and room) mate Connor Watson, the crafty No.1 is about to go to another level in 2020.
The sheer intensity of the pre-season has brought out the best in the squad, and according to Watson, has Ponga primed and ready for a massive season.
Soper-Lawler: Nines, future and journey so far
“He’s looking good, he’s been training great,” Watson told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
“He’s probably in the best shape he’s been in, as long as I’ve known him anyway.
“It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve noticed this year (how fit the team is).”
With the Perth Nines just a few days from getting underway and the trials approaching in the coming weeks, Watson took time to reflect on what the team will take out of the massive pre-season they’re on the verge of completing.
The number one thing, according to Watson, is keeping up the intensity week in, week out.
“I think the biggest thing for Kalyn, and it’s the same for everyone here, is consistency,” Watson said.
“We’re great as a team as front runners, but normally when a team scores first against us, we struggle.
“We saw it last year, when we get out in front we’re heard to stop, but when things go the other way, we sort of had issues.”
While the back end of 2019 was tough to watch for most nib Newcastle Knights fans, one shining light was the form of Watson, who thrived in his new role within the forward pack.
Watch: Matty Johns message, Fox League shoot
Watson now believes he can mix it with the NRL’s elite, and he credits Coach Adam O’Brien with crafting the ideal pre-season.
“This (pre-season) would be the hardest one that I’ve done, even with my time at the Roosters,” Watson said.
“The intensity’s been really high, whereas in previous years it would be three really intense days, and then two recovery days.
“But here, every day’s been intense so far.
“He’s probably done that for a reason, when he’s looked at how we’ve played in the last few years.”