Kalyn Ponga’s NRL captain has implored Queensland coach Kevin Walters to take a risk on the devastatingly talented fullback.
The 20-year-old built further on his selection case in the Knights’ frustrating 33-26 loss to the Gold Coast on Saturday.
He set up a try in the first half before racing 95 metres in a superb solo effort that looked to seal victory for his side.
A series of blunders cost the Knights, though, with the Titans scoring the game’s last 15 points to end a run of five NRL losses.
Knights captain Aiden Guerra, himself a veteran of 10 Origins for Queensland, says Ponga has emerged as one of the team’s few reliable figures despite it being his first full NRL season.
And he said the livewire had shown himself capable and worthy of Origin deployment even if he had been somewhat immune to the hype south of the Tweed.
“They don’t talk too much about Origin in Newcastle – the Queensland selection anyway – it’s all about the Blues down there in the papers,” he said when asked how Ponga was handling the speculation.
“He’s a pretty grounded kid, there is obviously chat about him and the way he’s playing, you can’t question it.
“He’s very reliable out there and although he’s only played 20-odd games, he’s shining through as a bit of a leader.”
Just where his talent fits into Walters’ squad remains the biggest question, with any number of combinations being thrown around.
Selection debate has been turned on its head since the shock representative retirement of Cameron Smith, though, and Guerra said his young teammate deserved serious consideration.
“He’s shown he can handle this level. It is a step up but there’s only one way to test it out,” Guerra said.
“It’s all up to Kevvy and the selectors and where they’re going to fit him into the team … life’s full of risks, you’ve got to take them or you don’t.”