Ponga can cause nightmares for tiring Blues forwards: Heighington
Newcastle veteran Chris Heighington believes Kalyn Ponga could be just what Queensland need to break the second State of Origin wide open when the NSW forwards tire.
Ponga is likely to start Origin II from the bench and the Maroons are likely to use him as an attacking weapon to create scoring opportunities late in each half along the lines of the role that former Cowboys dynamo Matt Bowen filled more than a decade ago.
Heighington said no-one deserved a State of Origin spot more than Ponga.
The 20-year-old rising star was selected for the Maroons to come off the bench in Sunday's State of Origin II and Heighington is confident he can get the job done at representative level, just as he has proven at club level for the Knights.
"He definitely deserves it, he's a good young kid," Heighington said.
"He's so down to earth and keeps working on his game, so hopefully he does well and gets some minutes.
"Hopefully he plays at fullback, where he is most suited - but I am sure if they put him in anywhere, he'll do a job.
"He plays ad-lib and free, so he will find opportunities when NSW tire."
While Ponga turns his attention to Origin the rest of his teammates are enjoying a break, which could not come at a better time for the Knights who have been struggling with form and injuries.
Newcastle have won just one game in seven rounds, playing most of that period without star halfback Mitchell Pearce.
Winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall said two byes in the space of three weeks was just what the players needed to refresh.
"It's pretty tough, the NRL season, so to get the chance to freshen up both physically and mentally, the players always welcome that," Kenny-Dowall said.
"It's time to refocus and re-energise for what we hope is a successful back end to the season."
One of those players benefiting from the rest is 35-year-old Heighington. The former Sharks and Tigers forward has not ruled out playing again next year, despite being off contract with the Knights at the end of 2018, saying the desire to turn up and play and train is still there.
"I think I could, but I am not sure if I am going to," the forward said.
"I feel OK. Browny (coach Nathan Brown) hasn't played me every game this year – he's given me two or three games off this year.
"So I'll play a few more games then sit down with the family and friends, and come up with a decision.
"A lot of ex-players who have retired say that day will come when you know when it is time to retire, but I haven't had that – I still love turning up to training and having a laugh with the boys."
Kenny-Dowall has fuelled suggestions another off-contract player, former Roosters teammate and close friend Blake Ferguson, could join him at the Knights next season.
"He's a great football player, and I think what we are creating here, he'll fit in," Kenny-Dowall said.
"We've had a few chats and he is pretty excited, but that's something that he will have to decide for himself."
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