Ponga shrugs off Origin speculation
Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga insists he is not seeking selection in the Queensland Origin team, despite suggestions his form warrants a call-up.
In his debut season at the club, Ponga's take-charge performances have been one of the talking points of 2018.
He has made an incredible 68 tackle breaks and chalked up nine try assists but just wants to concentrate on club commitments at this stage of his career.
"I am happy doing what I am doing," Ponga said.
"I just want to perform every week and play good footy at the Knights and if I get a call up, I get a call up, which I would obviously be stoked to get but it's not my priority."
Despite the 20 year old making the highlights reel nearly every week, he insists the pressure is not getting to him.
"I just focus on what is ahead of me at the game and then anything outside of footy, I just don't think about," he said.
"If I am not here [at training] I am out with my mates or family, just doing my own thing, relaxing and chilling out - that's how I get away from it."
The former Broncos and Cowboys star has developed a productive partnership with Lachlan Fitzgibbon, combining with the mobile back-rower for several tries, including one in the second half against Souths last week.
"He is a good hole runner and he's a good player," Ponga said.
"It is something that we have been working on, not only myself and Fitzy, but as a team on combinations, and it's a good thing that we are only fresh, so it's exciting."
The Knights have struggled with goal-kicking over the past few weeks, with Ken Sio and Ponga sharing the role. Last week against the Rabbitohs the pair managed just one conversion from four attempts.
Ponga would be happy to take back the responsibility as first-choice kicker if asked by coach Nathan Brown and his Knights teammates.
"I didn't hand it over, but I like to go into the game clear minded with no stress on my plate," he said.
"It is just the way I wanted to go into the next game [against Manly], and Kenny just kept kicking,and if he is not feeling up to it then I would take it back."
Fellow Knights newcomer Slade Griffin is also potentially in line for a representative call-up, with the former Melbourne Storm hooker choosing New Zealand international status, despite being eligible for New South Wales.
Griffin could come into the equation, given injuries surrounding long-time Kiwis hooker Issac Luke.
"I am a Kiwi, but I am dual," Griffin said.
"I played under 18s for New South Wales but I am pledged for New Zealand at the moment, but that's a long way coming I just have to play well for the Knights."