Rugby League


Ponga learning from Tedesco tapes

He doesn't pretend to enjoy it, but watching tape of rival fullback James Tedesco is helping Kalyn Ponga hit form ahead of their likely State of Origin rendezvous next month.

The Newcastle fullback pored over footage of his Roosters opposite before Saturday's game against the Bulldogs, in which he started and finished with a try assist and try respectively.

At the instruction of club coach Nathan Brown, Ponga said he would continue to follow orders ahead of a likely berth in the Queensland No.1 jumper against incumbent NSW fullback Tedesco.

"It's not that I don't like it, I just don't do it - I'd rather do or watch other stuff - but I did that cause Browny told me to," he said.

"Teddy's work off the ball is impressive to see.

"Support play, I want to get better at that and he is probably one to mirror, so Browny's got me watching him a fair bit."

His return to form has corresponded with halfback Mitchell Pearce's and a three-game winning streak that has improved them to 4-5 and a win outside the top eight.

Ahead of Sunday's clash with St George Illawarra, Ponga said he had started to feel comfortable at the back after a false start in the No.6 for the Knights this season.

The 21-year-old was honest when asked if he thought Pearce had fallen into the trap of babysitting him when they were early-season halves partners.

"Maybe a little bit - he's playing his game now and I'm playing off the back of that - I hope he wasn't babysitting me too much," he said.

"I worked all preseason on playing in the halves, played there for first three rounds and it sort of didn't work."

Happy to be back terrorising defensive lines, Ponga said Origin selection would take care of itself if he kept improving.

"It feels pretty good scoring a try; I just want to put myself in those positions more often," he said.

--End of article--


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