Ponga could switch positions for Panthers clash
NEWCASTLE could move superstar Kalyn Ponga to five-eighth for this weekend's clash with Penrith in an effort to ease his workload.
After hamstring and ankle injuries dogged Ponga over the last few weeks the Dally M contender trained in the halves on Tuesday with rookie Nick Meaney at fullback.
Coach Nathan Brown revealed Ponga's injuries and youth meant his fitness levels weren't at their best and a move to the halves could ease the 20-year old's workload.
"We're having a bit of a look at it. He hasn't trained for a long period with his hamstring and then his ankle. We're probably looking to limit his running, that'd be the truth of it," Brown said.
"Nick's playing very well, so we'll have a look at it today and see where it takes us. We've got Cogs (Jack Cogger) on hand should we want to leave KP at fullback but it's certainly something we need to look at it.
"KP hasn't run very much so his fitness levels are dipping a little bit and his attacking influence on the team might improve if he plays at six in the short term."
"I think he's done one proper training session in seven weeks.
He's only a young kid still, while he's a very, very good player his fitness levels and his fitness bases is going to improve the more he matures and the more he trains and the more he plays."
Brown said he had no issue with Ponga's ability to defend in the front line and back him to make the move if he did switch.
"At the end of the day he plays like it anyway, so it's not going to change him in a lot of ways. From a defensive point of view, we saw in Origin he can handle the workload if needed."
Meaney would come into the starting side if Ponga switched and Brown was full of praise for the Ballina junior, who has impressed in his brief first grade chances this season.
"Nick's played in two games, we won both, from his first game to his second game he improved a lot then he was very, very good in reserve grade on the weekend. If we do go that way, we know Nick will do a good job."