Ponga would be a 'nightmare', says Fittler
Kalyn Ponga of the Knights is seen in action during the Round 6 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Newcastle Knights at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Friday, April 13, 2018. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
The prospect of boom youngster Kalyn Ponga posing questions of the NSW defence sends shudders through NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler.
"Oh, he'd be a nightmare because you just don't know," Fittler said of the WA-born talent carving up the NRL following his high-profile move from North Queensland to Newcastle.
Fittler fully expects Queensland counterpart Kevin Walters to throw Ponga into the Origin cauldron as calls grow louder for the 20-year-old to be given a crack.
Maroons captain Cameron Smith believes in the adage that if you're good enough, you're old enough.
"If you're the best person for the job, it doesn't matter how old you are or how much experience you've got," Smith said when asked about Ponga's credentials after the Storm's win over the Knights on Friday.
"If you're playing well enough and you're the best person for that position in a team, throw him in there.
"I got an opportunity to play State of Origin after 14 first-grade games.
"So if he's playing well enough and he's the best person to play a role in the Queensland State of Origin team, then I can't see why you wouldn't select him."
Despite the glowing endorsement, Smith's Storm teammate and long-time Maroons and Kangaroos ally Billy Slater remains a shoo-in to win the Queensland fullback role.
"But they'll play him off the bench for sure, I'd say," Fittler told The Sunday Footy Show on the Nine Network.
"He'd come on and cover anywhere in the backline. He could cover the halves, he covers fullback. Obviously he could play wing."
Fittler said the one saving grace if he had to plan to combat Ponga was the youngster's penchant to play on the left side.
"But he looks like a nightmare to tackle," he said.
Whether or not Ponga gets the nod, Smith said Queensland - chasing an 11th series win in 12 years - was again blessed with talent.
"He is a great prospect and Queensland's very lucky at the moment," Smith said.
"If he keeps working hard at his training, which I've heard he's a good kid - he's very respectful around the Newcastle Knights club and works hard.
"So if he continues to do that then I can only see his star keep rising and a representative opportunity will be around the corner pretty soon."
© AAP 2018