Knights' No.1 weapon Ponga led push for his move to be No.6
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Knights' No.1 weapon Ponga led push for his move to be No.6

There may be some internal trepidation about an increase in defensive workload but Kalyn Ponga believes his best football will be played at five-eighth.

That's why the 20-year-old sat down with Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown before the start of the pre-season and hashed out how a move to the halves might work.

Positional switch: Kalyn Ponga talks with Newcastle coach Nathan Brown.

Positional switch: Kalyn Ponga talks with Newcastle coach Nathan Brown.Credit:AAP

The result of that conversation will see Ponga line up at No. 6 for the New Zealand Maori All Stars on Friday night in what he hopes will be the start of a prosperous move into the frontline.

"For team dynamics I sat down with Browny after the season that I had and [discussed] where I could best fit for next season and we made a call on it," Ponga said in Melbourne on Tuesday. "Obviously through the season it was a bit of trial and error but I just want to put my best foot forward in that position.

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"I’ve been there the whole pre-season and hopefully I can play some six on Friday to get some experience in that position."

Ponga started at five-eighth in Newcastle's Round 23 win over the Panthers last year but has otherwise played all his first grade football at either fullback or wing.

No worries: Kalyn Ponga training with the Maroons on the Gold Coast.

No worries: Kalyn Ponga training with the Maroons on the Gold Coast.Credit:NRL Photos

While there are no major question marks regarding his defensive ability in the front line he did admit, with a chuckle, that not even he would know how he will fare making 20 plus tackles every week.

"Ask me in round four or five, after I’ve done that," Ponga said with a smile. "I don’t know how I’m going to go but I will be giving it my best. Whoever my back row is - I hope they make some tackles for me."

There are no question marks regarding Ponga's ability with ball in hand. The move to No. 6 will simply give him more chances to break the line and given the threat he posed at fullback last year, opposition clubs will be hoping for some growing pains at five-eighth.

The Dally M runner-up has already said he will float across the field in an push to find the football in his hands as much as possible and he will be essentially be given free reign alongside Tyrone Roberts on Friday.

Ball player: Ponga will run Newcastle's attack with Mitch Pearce this year.

Ball player: Ponga will run Newcastle's attack with Mitch Pearce this year.Credit:AAP

That's a prospect which excites Ponga, who hopes to put on a show at AAMI Park.

"We’ll just freestyle it, throw the ball around I reckon," he said. "We know our structure - it’s pretty simple only having a week together. But hopefully we can do some freaky stuff and score some tries for us."

Ponga's ability suggests he's more likely than not to produce some "freaky stuff" for the Maoris.

Whether he does so or not is largely inconsequential for his father, Andre, who is a proud Kiwi.

After choosing a Queensland State of Origin berth over a New Zealand Test cap, the chance to represent his father's culture is "special" for Ponga.

"They’re coming - mum and dad and my little sister," he said. "To wear the Maori jersey - for them, especially my dad- it means a lot. To do him proud is pretty cool.

"When I got told the idea I was pretty excited and my dad was pretty excited that I’d be able to represent my culture. It’s pretty special to be a part of it."

Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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