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Kalyn Ponga and Brodie Croft will wind the clock back five years to their schoolboy days when they play alongside each other in the halves for the Australia 'A' team against France at WIN Stadium on Friday night.

Ponga was fullback and Croft played wing in the star-studded Churchie rugby union team that dominated the Brisbane GPS competition in 2014.

South Sydney second-rower Jayden Su'A played in the centres, while the team also included Broncos winger Izaia Perese, Wallabies flanker Liam Wright, NSW Waratahs five-eighth Mack Mason and Queensland Reds forwards Angus Scott-Young and Harry Hockings.

"We had a very good year that year," Ponga said. "He was on the wing and I was at the back so we linked up in a different way.

Junior Kangaroos v France, International, 2019

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"Obviously we are the halves combination now so we have to work together a lot more. I have known Crofty for a long while and watched him while he has been at the Storm. He takes control and I will just sort of play."

The pair are room-mates in the Australia A team (officially the Junior Kangaroos), which will play their inaugural match as an under 23s side against a France outfit which comprises of players mostly from Super League and the RFL's second division Championship competition.

The Kangaroos, Jillaroos and Australia A.
The Kangaroos, Jillaroos and Australia A. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"We have picked up where we left off a few years ago," Croft said. "He is a real smart footballer as well, you see all his freaky skills and all but when it comes to talking and football brains he has got that as well. I really love working with him and looking forward to playing with him as well.

"At school level he was the fullback and I played on the wing that year. That was an incredible team in 2014, I wanted to be a part of it so I copped some medicine and played on the wing. I ended up scoring a thousand cherry pickers off him. He would make the line breaks, set me up or whatever and I just had to put the ball down over the try-line."

On this occasion it is Ponga who is playing out of position after being selected at five-eighth to accommodate Croft's Melbourne team-mate Ryan Papenhauzen at fullback.

Ponga started the season at five-eighth for Newcastle but returned to his more accustomed fullback role after three matches and incoming Knights coach Adam O'Brien has already said that is where he will stay next year.

"I will just what is best for the team. I am happy to be in the halves position for this team," Ponga said. "I have got people around me who can do awesome things so I have just got to give them the ball."

Australia A is considered an emerging Kangaroos team and Ponga said he was keen to play with the talent in the side, which includes the likes of David Fifita, Zac Lomax, Victor Radley, Campbell Graham, Angus Crichton and AJ Brimson.

"I want to be involved with some of the boys in this team," he said. "Off the field we have had a ball and we are hoping to translate that onto the field.

"I think what Australia are doing with the under 23s is awesome. It is a stepping stone in the right direction for us, and it gives us something to strive for and aim for.

"The Kangaroo tour next year and World Cup [in 2021] will be awesome. That is something I want to be involved in, and to be a part of this means you are on the right track."

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