Brown backs Ponga to thrive for Queensland
Newcastle coach Nathan Brown is confident Kalyn Ponga will handle anything thrown his way in the second Holden State of Origin clash at ANZ Stadium this Sunday.
The 20-year-old fullback has been a standout for the Knights this season. His scintillating form has been rewarded with a spot on the Maroons bench.
Brown is not worried about his age, saying Ponga has the confidence to perform in the elite arena.
"I guess if you are good enough, age is not a barrier and Kalyn has proven at the level that he is at," Brown said.
"It's always the question when you are young, but I remember when Laurie Daley and a lot of other guys got put into the Origin - the first year New South Wales didn't do so well, but then went on to dominate.
"It seems like only yesterday when Mal Meninga was under pressure and brought young players called Cameron Smith and Billy Slater - I think that may have been a bit early, but they went on to dominate."
His round 15 performance against the Storm may have been below his best, according to Brown, but it still earned praise from Maroons legend Smith.
The Storm skipper admitted they focused in Ponga in pre-game preparation but the fleet-footed No.1 still caused a few problems.
The Knights coach believes one of Ponga's greatest attributes is that he does not only make himself look good on the field, but also his teammates.
"I have got no doubt that Kalyn playing the way he plays certainly makes the players outside him look good," Brown said.
"It's one of his greatest attributes, helping out his teammates. A lot of the stuff he does revolves around line break and try assists."
But as for any specific Origin advice, Brown will leave it those in charge of the Maroons.
"Unfortunately I wasn't as good as Kalyn, I didn't play Origin - so if he needs Origin advice, he'd be better off seeing Billy Slater or someone like that," Brown quipped.
"I just hope he backs himself because he got picked because he is a talented young kid who has plenty of belief in himself.
"I'm sure Queensland will have some sort of plan to use him, and use him well, just like they have with others over the past 10-15 years."
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