Kalyn Ponga has arrived… now the Maroons must find a way to use the Newcastle whizkid after he was named in the Queensland squad for Origin II in Sydney on Sunday.
Billy Slater (hamstring) has assured Maroons coach Kevin Walters he will be fit, meaning the Queensland coaching staff must find a creative way to ensure Ponga can be deployed to maximum effect at ANZ Stadium.
The future: Billy Slater has been declared fit for Queensland but Kayln Ponga has been included in the squad.
Ponga took the place of Anthony Milford in an 18-man squad, which also features Melbourne prop Tim Glasby who is on standby for Dylan Napa (ankle), who must prove his fitness by Wednesday or miss out on selection.
Walters said Ponga, who has been rated by many as the best talent of his emerging generation, was firmly in their plans for game two and they had some strategies as to how to get him involved.
He can cover a number of positions in the outside backs and halves but if there are no injuries to Slater or the key playmakers, finding a way to inject him into the contest will be more tricky.
"He's been playing some good football for the Knights and he was very close in game one," Walters said. "We expect to have him in game two."
"We've got some plans around how we want to use Kalyn. We're very grateful we've got him into the side this time around."
Napa appears confident of playing and if that was the case, selectors said Glasby would miss out. But Glasby's ability to slow down play and be a key middle defender could yet force their hand into giving him a start from the bench.
"We will sort that [Napa] out early in the week. We need 17 fit guys to take on what was a very strong NSW outfit again. We'll give Dylan every chance to prove his fitness," Walters said.
Walters was keen to end the press conference and get into camp as he tries to keep the series alive. Central to that will be tightening up the Maroons defence, which was far too leaky to win an Origin clash.
"If you look at the game, we did some really good things. Our forwards, at certain times in the game, were the dominant pack. We've got to get that consistency. The first area we need to get better on is defence… we missed 55 tackles."
Queensland squad for game two
Jai Arrow – Gold Coast Titans
Will Chambers – Melbourne Storm
Gavin Cooper – North Queensland Cowboys
Dane Gagai- South Sydney Rabbitohs
Tim Glasby – Melbourne Storm
Coen Hess – North Queensland Cowboys
Valentine Holmes – Cronulla Sharks
Ben Hunt – St George Illawarra Dragons
Greg Inglis (c) – South Sydney Rabbitohs
Felise Kaufusi – Melbourne Storm
Andrew McCullough – Brisbane Broncos
Josh McGuire – Brisbane Broncos
Cameron Munster – Melbourne Storm
Dylan Napa – Sydney Roosters
Josh Papalii – Canberra Raiders
Kalyn Ponga – Newcastle Knights
Billy Slater – Melbourne Storm
Jarrod Wallace – Gold Coast Titans
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