NRL: Newcastle Knights recruit Kalyn Ponga picks Queensland over New Zealand in representative ranks

CHANCE: Knights recruit Kalyn Ponga at pre-season training. Picture: Simone De Peak
CHANCE: Knights recruit Kalyn Ponga at pre-season training. Picture: Simone De Peak

Newcastle Knights recruit Kalyn Ponga has been named in Queensland’s emerging State of Origin squad after opting for the Maroons over international opportunities with New Zealand.

The 19-year-old, born in Western Australia but of Maori descent, wants to make his mark in the annual interstate rivalry after recently making a considered call on his representative future.    

“This has been a decision I have taken my time with, but with my mind made up I’m excited to take part in the Emerging Maroons camp,” Ponga said.

“I’m proud of my Kiwi heritage, but my ambition is to play for Queensland in State of Origin.”

The squad was announced on Friday afternoon and Queensland coach Kevin Walters expressed his excitement at having Ponga in the group.

“He is a player of the future so it is good news for Maroons fans that he has confirmed his allegiance with us,” Walters said.

The class of 2018 also includes fellow Knights signing Tautau Moga as well as Cowboys pair Kyle Feldt and Ethan Lowe, Parramatta’s Corey Norman and Melbourne’s Felise Kaufusi.

Eight of last year’s participants went on to make their Queensland debuts.

A training camp will be held on the Gold Coast in late January.

Earlier in the week Knights trio Brock Lamb, Connor Watson and Daniel Saifiti were selected in the NSW emerging Origin squad by new Blues coach Brad Fittler.