Kalyn Ponga can expect a torrid reception when he makes his much-anticipated move to the NRL's front line in Newcastle's season-opening clash with Cronulla on Friday night.
After lining up at fullback in all but one game last season, Ponga is set to make a permanent switch to second receiver in 2019 as Knights coach Nathan Brown looks to maximise the involvement of his attacking trump card.
Brown, and seemingly Ponga too, haven't been spooked by the boom youngster succumbing to an ankle injury when thrust into the Newcastle No.6 jumper against Penrith in round 23 last year.
It proved his last game of 2018 and almost certainly cost Ponga the Dally M Medal, with the 20-year-old finishing runner-up to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck by two points after missing the final three rounds.
Six months on and the Sharks, with one of the competition's most seasoned forward packs led by Paul Gallen, Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita, are promising Ponga no let-up at McDonald Jones Stadium.
"Moving from fullback to the halves, that's probably one area where you do get a lot of traffic and make a lot more tackles," Sharks halfback Chad Townsend said.
"There'll be no doubt we'll be sending a lot of traffic this week at him and making sure he can make as many tackles as he can to try and get that sting out of his attack.
There'll be no doubt we'll be sending a lot of traffic this week at him.CHAD TOWNSEND
"But I saw the kid play 60 minutes in Origin in the middle so I know he's a tough kid, but we want to take out as much juice out of him as we can."
Ponga's switch from fullback has allowed Brown to reshuffle his backline to accommodate two former Cronulla players, with winger Edrick Lee and powerhouse centre Jesse Ramien lining up against their old Sharks teammates.
Both Lee and Ramien featured in Cronulla's 30-6 trial win over Newcastle two weeks ago, not that Townsend believes the Sharks gained any great psychological edge over the Knights with that commanding victory.
"We've got no doubts the Knights will have looked at the tape and be disappointed with how they played," Townsend said. "It's a different game. They'll be ready - round one up in Newcastle in front of their home fans. And we haven't won round one for five years and that's a big thing for us."