NRL | Knights coach Nathan Brown says it will be up to Kalyn Ponga if he plays five-eighth or fullback.

CLASS ACT: Kalyn Ponga
CLASS ACT: Kalyn Ponga

KNIGHTS coach Nathan Brown expects Kalyn Ponga will remain at five-eighth for Sunday’s clash with Cronulla at Shark Park but will allow the NRL’s hottest prospect to decide his own long-term positional future.

Ponga played his first NRL game at pivot in Saturday’s 20-12 win against Penrith and was instantly effective, having a hand, or foot, in two of Newcastle’s tries and producing 16 tackles.

His switch from fullback allowed Brown to include Canterbury-bound Nick Meaney, who was generally impressive except for one dropped kick-return that cost Newcastle a try.

Asked for his thoughts on where 20-year-old Ponga was likely to settle, Brown replied: “It's more a question for Kalyn than it is for me.

“Obviously I'm the coach but he's only early in his career and he did come to us to play fullback … but he's a good footy player so I'm not sure it matters where we put him, who coaches him, or what club he plays for."

Brown joked that Ponga could play prop and “do a solid job”.

The Queensland Origin star said he found that playing five-eighth gave him “a bit more energy in attack”, but he was happy to play wherever Brown felt it best suited the team.

“It was great start, with the win, but it’s not always going to be easy in that position,” he said. “No doubt if I play there next week, I’ll probably get targeted a bit more, so we’ll just have to see how I go … I’m in no rush to play in the halves, but like I said, I’ll play there if I have to and it’s best for the team.

“I’m not too fussy with it.”

Ponga’s ability to play more than one position will only enhance his claims for a possible Test debut for the Kangaroos against New Zealand in Auckland on October 14.

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