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Brown doesn't want to lock in Ponga at No.6 just yet

Knights coach Nathan Brown still wants Kalyn Ponga to train at fullback as he keeps all his options open with the RLPA Players' Champion making a shift to five-eighth in 2019.

Ponga, who turns 21 in March, wants a crack in the play-making role and says he'll return to fullback if he's "a dud", but Brown doesn't think that's going to happen.

Still the coach doesn't want to be stuck into a hard-and-fast position on Ponga, citing the Sharks' manoeuvring between Mat Moylan, Josh Dugan and Valentine Holmes at fullback last season as a prime example.

Connor Watson will play fullback for the Knights in their two trials against the Dragons (February 23) and the Sharks (March 2).

"Kalyn can still do some training at fullback too. I've made the point a few times that we've got a few players with a lot of confidence and players have a lot of confidence in Kalyn," Brown told

"Cronulla used three different blokes last year, who had all played Origin or Tests at fullback. Shane Flanagan used different ones at different stages and then settled on one [Holmes].

Ponga: If I'm a dud I'll go back to fullback

"So we've got to work out what's best for us at fullback.

"We certainly want to have a good look at Kalyn at No.6. He certainly wants to have a good go at it.

"I didn't sit down with Kalyn and tell him I wanted to move him to five-eighth. But I'm happy to have a look at him because he is an outstanding young talent whether it's at No.6 or No.1 – it's the style of play he plays.

"I know a lot of people make a big point about it. I remember when Anthony Milford moved from Canberra to the Broncos [in 2015] and everyone bagged Wayne (Bennett) for putting Milford to No.6. Fast-forward the clock eight months and he was the best player in the grand final. Same thing when Wayne moved Darren [Lockyer] to No.6."

"What they are is great players. It's not necessarily where they stand, it's how they play a lot of the time."

Ponga linked with Mitchell Pearce in the halves in round 23 match against the Panthers this year. But he injured his ankle and didn't play the final two rounds.

Brown said the pair would combine in the halves in both trials.

"They haven't played much footy. Pearcie missed a lot of footy last year [with a pectoral tear] and Kalyn missed a bit too.

"Obviously we didn't make the playoffs so the guys have had a huge break. When you're playing finals footy and Test footy afterwards maybe that first trial is not as important.

"But for us and our club it is important that they play some footy and maybe Klem [new recruit David Klemmer] will need to play."

Pearce: We've been crying out for an enforcer

As for reports the Knights were prepared to shift outside back Nathan Ross and hooker Danny Levi, Brown said the duo would be in Newcastle next year.

"Ross is with us and he's training well. His best spot is obviously wing," Brown said.

"If Rossie is playing well, and he's fit, he contributes. Again he was a player last year that had a bad groin for a long period of time so wasn't able to put his best foot forward. But he's all better now and training well."

Hooker and a utility were two positions Brown wanted to fill before 2019 and he had his sights on St George Illawarra's Kurt Mann but a deal has yet to be reached.

Levi and Canterbury's Intrust Super Premiership championship-winning hooker Zac Woolford will be the first-choice hookers with Slade Griffin sidelined following knee reconstruction surgery.

"Danny will be here. Zac is now there and how he develops only time will tell," Brown said.

"The Kurt Mann thing as a utility-type player could work so we took a look. But that hasn't unfolded because of different circumstances.

"With the situation with Slade, he was there to tag with Danny then he got hurt. We had Rory Kostjasyn there and he got hurt.

"It seems like no-one wants to wear our No.9. But it's a position we're developing. Jamie Buhrer has been playing a bit in there at training so there's some water to go under the bridge there yet."

Centre Tautau Moga is also back running and doing weights following his left knee reconstruction after he suffered an injury in round four.

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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