Kalyn Ponga hopes the influence of immortal Andrew Johns can help take his game to another level amid talk he could be on the move next season.
Ponga returned to pre-season training on Wednesday after an extended break following Newcastle's finals exit in September with his 2022 position and long-term future immediately up for hot topic.
The 23-year-old has been linked to a move to the Dolphins in 2023 but hosed down talk he's spoken to Wayne Bennett about a switch north.
Ponga has been touted as a possible target by the Dolphins with the Queensland representative yet to activate a two-year extension in his favour at the Knights.
"My nerves have been building for today [return to pre-season] since I've got back from [holidays in] Burleigh," Ponga said in response to the Dolphins talk.
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"It's not using any of my energy for them [media] to talk. My energy is here, my focus and attention is here.
"I want to be better next year and I get to have a pre-season this year which I'm excited about.
"The carrot dangling is a premiership at the end of next year. I'm excited to win that and want to get after that."
Ponga expressed his excitement at the chance to work with Johns for the first time in his career, indicating their two training sessions together already had given him a different perspective on the game.
Johns has been open about the club's need to use Ponga in better periods throughout a game during his commentary with his ability to now mentor the fullback a positive for the club.
"I want to work on my craft at the back, I still think I've got plenty to go back there," Ponga said.
"For me it's about being better in my position. It's massive [having Johns here]… I've had two sessions with him already and in those I feel the amount of detail, attention and care and want that he has.
"He speaks for himself and I'm excited to get to work."
Ponga said a possible move from fullback to the halves following Mitchell Pearce's departure had been discussed but it was mutually decided he will remain in the No.1 jersey.
He was confident the likes of Adam Clune, Phoenix Crossland, Kurt Mann and Jake Clifford could allow him to play his natural game at the back.
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"It's massive shoes, Pearcey was a leader at the club but it's a chance for younger boys to come up and come through, for them to shine the light," he said.
"I've had a little bit to do with Clune. Phoenix gets better every year and I've played with Cliffo, he's going to get better as well.
"There was a discussion [about switching into the halves] but I put that to bed. I had a chat to Adzy [Adam O'Brien] and once we finalised what I wanted to do and what we think is best I'm pretty settled. I want to play fullback."