Expect Kalyn Ponga to get the freedom he needs. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Expect Kalyn Ponga to get the freedom he needs. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Munster and Cherry-Evans planning to unleash Ponga

QUEENSLAND halves Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans have vowed to unleash Kalyn Ponga to ensure he delivers a knockout punch to the Blues in State of Origin I.

Ponga will make his starting debut as Billy Slater's fullback successor next  Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium and Maroons skipper Cherry-Evans has outlined plans to give the attacking whiz the space to run riot in the series' opener.

Ponga is getting the best mentoring in the business ahead of Origin I, with Queensland assistant coach and legendary fullback Billy Slater attending training on Thursday to work on positional play with the 21-year-old.

And Queensland's game managers, Munster and Cherry-Evans, will copy the playbook of former NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce to ensure Ponga terrorises the Blues.

Billy Slater gives the benefit of his experience to Kalyn Ponga. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP
Billy Slater gives the benefit of his experience to Kalyn Ponga. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP

Five-eighth Munster has watched Pearce forge a lethal attacking alliance with Ponga at the Newcastle Knights this season and says he will follow suit with early, clean ball to let the code's new superstar bamboozle NSW with his magic.

"I won't sugar-coat this … I will give Kalyn the ball," Munster said.

"We would be silly not to use Kalyn.

"I have seen the way Mitchell Pearce plays with KP at the Knights and I will let him do his thing.

"I don't need to be someone I'm not. I don't need to become a KP, I will just give him the ball and let him attack.

"We've seen what he's done in club land and then just on the big stage, he is a confident fullback and in-form fullback.

"I want to give Kalyn some early ball and let him get his hands on it. If he does something good, his confidence will grow even more which would be scary to see.

"It will be great to play alongside him."

Ponga made a magical debut off the bench in Origin II last year, almost snatching victory when he sliced through in the dying minutes only to be grounded a metre short in a superb try-saver by NSW fullback James Tedesco.

After missing Origin III with injury, Ponga returns to the Origin stage for the second time and will again confront Tedesco.

While Ponga's five-eighth experiment at Newcastle failed, he has been in sizzling touch since his return to fullback eight weeks ago, producing 51 tackle busts, 10 line breaks and seven tries to enter Origin I as Queensland's form outside back.

Cameron Munster is determined to get the best out of KP. Picture: Adam Head
Cameron Munster is determined to get the best out of KP. Picture: Adam Head

Slater relished fine-tuning Ponga for an Origin opener Cherry-Evans believes the Knights ace could win with a moment of individual brilliance.

"Kalyn has the ability to break games open, 100 per cent," he said.

"If we can Kalyn into a position he is familiar with, the more confident and comfortable he is, the more we are going to see him do brilliant things.

"It's been one of our plans (to get him involved)."

Blues enforcer and Knights teammate David Klemmer is wary of the Ponga threat.

"We know we are in for a big game against Kalyn and he is going to do some damage," he said.

"We can't rush up on him or he can set up other players to tear us to shreds."

News Corp Australia


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