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Ponga's Origin mission: I want to be known as a winner

Frustrated by injury, Kalyn Ponga says he finally wants to make the Queensland No.1 jersey his own in his quest to be "known as a winner" ahead of his long awaited State of Origin return.

Ponga looked set for a long and decorated Maroons career when he made a stellar Origin debut in game two of the 2018 series at the age of 20.

A string of ailments have restricted the Newcastle X-factor to just two of a possible nine Origins since then, missing last year's upset series triumph altogether due to a shoulder injury.

Incredibly the curse struck again this year when a groin complaint sidelined the Knights No.1 for the first two games, forcing Ponga to watch in horror from his couch as NSW romped to their third series win in four years with their first whitewash since 2000 now in their sights.

Now fully fit, Ponga said he wanted to make up for lost time in the No.1 jersey as Queensland looked to salvage some pride in Origin III in Newcastle.

AJ Brimson, Corey Allan and Valentine Holmes have all taken turns as Queensland custodian in the last eight months alone with Ponga sidelined.

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Even Warriors young gun Reece Walsh almost got a crack after playing just seven NRL games before succumbing to injury ahead of this year's Origin II.

Three years after being marked for greatness, Ponga believes he is now ready to stake his Origin claim.

"There's healthy competition I reckon (for Queensland fullback)," Ponga said.

"I was excited to see Reece hopefully debut. I think we were all saddened when he didn't.

"Val has been solid there, there was AJ last year and Corey won a series (last year wearing No.1 jersey).

"For me I just want to solidify it (fullback spot) and make it mine. I will do that by playing my best footy."

Ponga didn't waste time hitting top form in his NRL return for the Knights last weekend after missing six games nursing his troublesome groin.

He ticked every box, scoring two tries and setting up another two as he outclassed opposite number Holmes to spark Newcastle's 38-0 thrashing of North Queensland last Saturday.

Ponga said the next challenge was producing his best at Origin level, a feat he reckoned he had not pulled off - yet.

"I think that is the challenge for me. I want to be known as a winner," he said.

"In Origin, I just want to win.

Ponga is bringing out all the tricks now

"That winning feeling (in Origin) is definitely unbeatable.

"Hopefully I am not injured and I keep that consistency, that is the main thing for me.

"But that (Knights comeback) game definitely gave me confidence, in terms of my speed, my metres, my involvement.

"I learned a lot in seven weeks of not playing, just watching footy - I wanted to go out there and give it a go."

Ponga has also learned a lot watching Queensland's two heavy Origin losses from the comfort of home.

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And the first big lesson may not be what Maroons fans want to hear.

"I have been asked whether I will be the difference. No," he said.

"We've got threats but I think all of us collectively have to play our best.

"I don't think the boys lack pride (in jersey) or anything like that. The boys have it. It's there. It's in the camp. It is amongst the coaching staff.

"But it's about gelling together, having that steely mindset, execution, taking your opportunities - that's Origin footy."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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