Kalyn Ponga is a contender for a place in the Queensland team for Origin II. Picture: Adam Head
Kalyn Ponga is a contender for a place in the Queensland team for Origin II. Picture: Adam Head

Ponga for Origin II? Walters responds to growing calls

QUEENSLAND coach Kevin Walters has hinted he could blood exciting young gun Kalyn Ponga in Origin II, admitting "we can't hold him back for much longer".

Following a blistering start to his time at Newcastle, there have been growing calls for Ponga to make his debut for the Maroons this year, the latest coming from rugby league legend Wally Lewis.

Ponga was brought into camp ahead of game one and was a chance of playing when Dane Gagai suffered a compound dislocation.

His chances of playing in game two however could largely depend on the fitness of Billy Slater who withdrew from the series opener due to a hamstring strain.

Slater has been named to make his return for Melbourne in their game against the Knights on Sunday, a clash which looms as a mouth-watering battle between the veteran and the 20-year-old.

Walters said that Slater would play in game two if fit, but also couldn't ignore the talents of Ponga.

"Since the opening rounds everyone's been throwing up his name to play Origin," Walters said.

"The selectors, myself, 'Locky' (Darren Lockyer) and 'Geno' (Gene Miles) are certainly aware of his ability.

Kalyn Ponga during the Maroons captains run before Origin I. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Kalyn Ponga during the Maroons captains run before Origin I. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

"It's just a matter of when the right time is to blood him. Is it in game two? Well, it very well could be.

"We'll just take our time over the next four or five days. We don't have to announce the team until Monday.

"I can assure all those Queenslanders out there that he's very much in the picture for game two."

Walters said Ponga impressed when he joined the Maroons camp before Origin I.

"He was very good," Walters said.

"In fact he trained on the wing for us when we had the finger injury to Dane Gagai.

"He slotted in on the right wing and he was very good at that too.

"He's a wonderful talent and we're very aware of his talents and we'd like to introduce him at some stage to the Origin arena.

"We can't hold him back for too much longer, I will say that."


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