What’s the price of a premiership? For the Newcastle Knights, it’s the value of Trent Robinson’s signature.
Queensland legend Wally Lewis says the time is now to pick Kalyn Ponga for State of Origin.
Ponga’s potential selection has become one of the biggest talking points heading into the second clash in Sydney, as the Maroons look to keep the series and their dominance alive.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters made seven changes ahead of game two last year after they were heavily beaten in the series opener, and changes are again forecast in the search for Maroons points.
Lewis said Ponga had to be one of those changes.
“”This kid has something special about him,” Lewis told the Nine Network.
“There’s always been that line used, it mightn’t be a good time to select him, he’s not old enough for State of Origin football.
“But as Arthur Beetson would say if you’re good enough then you are old enough. The ability this man has displayed in his NRL appearances so far this season have been sensational.
“If he was picked in the team it would be with the full confidence of a lot of Queenslanders including me being one of them.”
Lewis’ comments come as Blues coach Brad Fittler declared Ponga was an Origin player for the next 10 years for the Maroons.
The 20-year-old whiz kid was called into the Maroons’ squad after Billy Slater was ruled out injured, but Walters opted for Michael Morgan at fullback and Anthony Milford on the bench.
In his first full season in the NRL, Ponga leads the NRL for tackle busts (75) and linebreak assists (17), while he has also set up 12 tries and scored four of his own.
“There’s no doubt he is going to play 10 years of Origin. It’s no fluke this first year,” Fittler said.
“There’s just the way he saves tries more than he scores them. He puts his body on the line. He got belted last week and he just got straight back to his feet. He’s a good player.”
Meanwhile Lewis also said he would call veteran forward Matt Scott into the Maroons squad.
“Jarrod Wallace seemed to struggle a bit, I think he only got four or five carries for the game,” Lewis said.
“Queensland do need to rely on their experienced players and (Scott’s) in that category.”