Newcastle star Kalyn Ponga believes he and Titans fullback AJ Brimson can form a dangerous Queensland Origin combination as the Maroons search for a way to combat the likely twin threat of James Tedesco and Ryan Papenhuyzen.
With Tedesco and Papenhuyzen the two top fullbacks in the NRL, Blues coach Brad Fittler will need to find a way to squeeze both into his 17 along with South Sydney’s No.1 Latrell Mitchell who could just as easily slot back into the centres.
New Maroons coach Paul Green appears to have a similar headache to Fittler with Ponga and Brimson both able to bring different skills but equally breathtaking game-breaking ability to the table.
Green could opt to bring either Ponga or Brimson off the bench as his utility in Origin, filling the role last occupied by Harry Grant who is expected to win a promotion to starting hooker following the retirement of Jake Friend.
Ponga believes he and Brimson could work well together in Origin and after missing Queensland’s shock series victory last year due to shoulder surgery he is keen to get back amongst it in a team that could boast young superstars like David Fifita, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Cameron Munster.
Ponga strikes from long-range
“Yeah 100 per cent (we could play well together),” Ponga said.
“He did an awesome job there last year when he played and he is playing good footy. I would love to be in the team with him.
“AJ is a good mate of mine, I love playing against him and he is playing good footy at the moment too.
“Obviously I wanted to be there and be a part of it that team (last year) with Wayne (Bennett) coaching and all that, but I can’t be mad they won and it was awesome to watch and for those boys it will be special. I want to be part of it.”
But with Origin selection still several weeks away Ponga’s most immediate focus is how to fix Newcastle and break a three-game losing streak ahead of a tough month of football starting Friday at home to Cronulla.
Ponga said he will only grow in confidence after his first game of the season in the 42-16 loss to the Gold Coast and with Bradman Best and Kurt Mann to return this week the Knights should produce a far more consistent performance.
“I found a bit of rhythm in the second half. The first half I was just building my way into things. I was kind of happy with it. Defensively I wasn’t really happy with myself,” Ponga said.
Match Highlights: Titans v Knights
“I don’t feel like I have to do everything, I just want to play my role and do my job and execute the plays I want to execute.
“There’s a few things I didn’t do right out there in attack and defence. For my first game back it’s a good block to build off but I want to be better.
“We just need to be consistent. We talked about this as a team even before [coach Adam O’Brien] got here, we have always spoken about consistency and we need to find that every week. It doesn’t matter who is playing and in what position we just need to be consistent.”
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