Ponga a genuine Dally M threat?

ponga

Image: Phil Hillyard

Newcastle have had one of their best starts to a season in recent memory and have put their hand up for the accolade of most improved side of 2018.

Much of their early season success surely has to be credited to their star fullback, Kalyn Ponga. The young recruit has proven to be one of the most significant signings this year along with club halfback Mitchell Pearce and has the potential to be the most important signing in the club’s history (I don’t count Johns; he was homegrown).

Ponga’s displays of brilliance have gone beyond mere potential though and I think there’s a fair case to suggest that Ponga could well snag the Dally M Medal this year. 

Pearce’s absence

Mitchell Pearce is spending time on the sidelines with a torn pectoral. The news was devastating for the Newcastle faithful, particularly considering the number seven was leading the Dally M Medal count at the time of the injury. Interestingly, the injury has opened the door for Ponga, a fine ball player himself, to take on a more prominent attacking role at Newcastle. If he can continue to impress, it’s likely he’ll feature in the top three performers any and all times the Knights take out the two points. 

Newcastle’s dominant player

In many ways, players like Ponga benefit from not featuring in starry lineups (think Storm, Roosters, Dragons), because there’s less chance of teammates taking valuable Dally M points away from them. Granted, this is rarely at the forefront of a real team player’s mind – but it’s worth thinking about, all the same. If he continues to score tries, offer assists and gain plenty of running metres, Ponga could be in the fray whether his team wins or loses. 

Just a genuine freak 

Whilst my previous two points are somewhat calculating and require a little guess work to truly believe in, at the end of the day, Ponga is just an unbelievably talented player. The 20-year-old is doing things that have rarely been done before by such a young player at such a high level. There have been plenty of hyped up youngsters in the past, but they rarely make the smooth transition into first grade. This is certainly not the case for Ponga. He has amazing skill, footwork and pace and I believe he is one of the few young players that are worth what he is earning. I am actually curious to see when he will get a pay rise considering how good he is, crazy I know. The Cowboys will definitely regret letting him go.

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