Kalyn Ponga’s Origin debut was one to remember in Sydney. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Kalyn Ponga’s Origin debut was one to remember in Sydney. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Maroons’ reign ends, Ponga’s begins

KALYN Ponga is going to trouble NSW for years.

Maybe, decades.

At times, you reckon, making our future winters seem longer than anything in even Game of Thrones.

So, please, soak this one up Blues fans.

For, yes, the 2018 series has not only broken the greatest forgone conclusion in Australian sport, but given birth of a whole new chapter of young Blues superstars.

 

 

 

But, undoubtedly, it's given us Ponga too.

Which hardly seem fair, right?

For just when it seemed we New South Welshmen had finally rid ourselves of Queensland greats - think Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Darius Boyd, and soon enough Billy Slater - the Maroons throw up a livewire kid all headgear, fast feet and unlimited skill who was born of Maori parents in Western Australia.

C'mon man.

Indeed, on a night of unlimited highlights, is was the 20-year-old Newcastle Knight who proved himself the most exciting of a whole host of rising Origin stars including Blues Latrell Mitchell, Tommy Trbojevic and Josh Addo-Carr.

Kalyn Ponga’s Origin debut was one to remember in Sydney. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Kalyn Ponga’s Origin debut was one to remember in Sydney. Picture. Phil Hillyard
 

Coming into this one, the biggest question was where Ponga would play. And for how long.

With few backing it to be over 50 minutes ... smack bang in the middle of an Origin slobberknocker.

But there he was.

Everywhere.

An Origin career of unlimited potential born when, with 12 minutes to play in the first half, the young superstar popped up off the bench and, replacing prop Jarrod Wallace, went and immediately packed into the backrow of a scrum.

And from there?

Ponga played big minutes and defended in the middle. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Ponga played big minutes and defended in the middle. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

Well, Ponga defended in the middle, smashed Tommy Turbo, almost threw for a try in the first, almost threw for a try in the second, almost scored after breaking away upfield and generally looking every inch an Origin player.

And still, NSW got home.

Better, they showed that while Ponga is going to trouble us for years to come, we will have fellas ready to hit back at him.

Take Roosters centre Mitchell; who powered over for a try on one highlight play. Buried Maroons playmaker Cameron Munster for another.

Even dragged rivals over the sideline like a shearer does sheep across the shed.

Addo-Carr, too, was outstanding.

Apart from scoring one try after producing two big left foot steps - getting himself through a hole that never seemed to be there - the Fox also saved a try that, while only nine minutes into this blockbuster, would eventually prove the difference.

 

Ponga was forced to make over 30 tackles. (AAP Image/David Moir)
Ponga was forced to make over 30 tackles. (AAP Image/David Moir)

 

Caught too far in field as Queensland shifted the Steeden right, and past him, Addo-Carr turned and did what he does best.

He moved - quickly.

Covering more ground than anyone thought possible to force opposite Dane Gagai into touch.

A bee's appendage in it.

And at this point, we should note, too, the role played by Queensland fullback Billy Slater. A 35, the oldest bloke on the field.

And for large chunks of this one, also the most dangerous.

Thankfully, Slater is retiring after this series.

Which seemed a wonderful reprieve.

Until Sunday night.

When Ponga arrived.

Watch the 2018 State of Origin Series LIVE or ON DEMAND anywhere outside AU, NZ and Pacific Islands on WATCH NRL. GRAB YOUR PASS NOW >



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