NRL | North Queensland star Michael Morgan backs teammate Kalyn Ponga

FLYING HIGH: North Queensland fullback Kalyn Ponga will play against his future Newcastle teammates for the first time on Saturday. Picture: Getty Images

FLYING HIGH: North Queensland fullback Kalyn Ponga will play against his future Newcastle teammates for the first time on Saturday. Picture: Getty Images

North Queensland rookie Kalyn Ponga has already proven he has the temperament to become an NRL fullback, according to Cowboys star Michael Morgan.

Ponga's ascension to first grade faces another pressure test this week when he faces future employers Newcastle for the first time since signing his multi-million deal in the pre-season. But Morgan insists the 19-year-old will handle the big occasion with the same cool head he has shown since deputising for injured No.1 Lachlan Coote for the past fortnight.

"He's not ahead of himself in anyway, he's not arrogant or anything like that. He's very level-headed and sensible," Morgan said.

"He fits into the group really well and I think that's why the team at the moment has embraced him, is happy for him to be playing first grade and having an opportunity to do well for us."

Ponga has been close to the Cowboys' best in the past two games, carrying the ball for an average 185 metres per game, and totalling 15 tackle breaks. Morgan has been impressed with his teammate's attention to detail.

"He does all the little things right - he's good under the high ball, he's getting a lot better defensively, and talking. He's been good," he said.

"Like everyone in the side though, he'd still want to work on a few things and try and improve. It's only three games in playing fullback at NRL level. It is hard to get used to doing."

Morgan himself admits he has yet to reach peak form in 2017 and vowed to step up his involvement in the absence of three-quarters of the team's spine.

Regular fullback Lachlan Coote (calf), skipper Johnathan Thurston (calf) and hooker Jake Granville (leg) remained sidelined for at least another week.

Morgan was mentioned by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga as a candidate for the upcoming Test in May should Thurston be kept out, but declined to discuss his representative claims.

"I don't feel like I've gone bad. I just haven't been in the games enough I suppose, doing enough and helping the team out," he said of his form.

"I just have to simplify things and go back to what works for me.

"Whether it's my running game or using my back-rower and trying to play off the back of him, I think as a team that's what we've spoken about doing and I can take that on board."

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