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Sport Comment: State of Origin: Queensland need Kalyn Ponga, not Billy Slater

13:42  08 june  2018
13:42  08 june  2018 Source:   sportingnews.com

Joey's warning to NSW after Billy bombshell

  Joey's warning to NSW after Billy bombshell Blues legend Andrew Johns had bad news for NSW fans hoping that Billy Slater's representative retirement would hurt Queensland in this year's Origin series.Slater, 34, has been a part of the strongest run for Queensland in Origin history, winning 11 of the last 12 series.

State of Origin Series Live: Just hours after coach Kevin Walters declared him set to play, Billy Slater has been ruled out of Wednesday’s State of Origin series opener in a massive blow for Queensland . Brisbane’s Anthony Milford and Newcastle’s Kalyn Ponga will be flown into Melbourne as potential

State of Origin 2018: Kalyn Ponga in the mix for dramatic Queensland debut. State of Origin : Kalyn Ponga in frame to replace injured Billy Slater .

a man wearing a football uniform© Provided by Sportal com au

The Opening clash of the 2018 State of Origin series made a very strong statement that younger players are the way forward.

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While Michael Morgan was reliable enough at the back, he wasn’t a game breaker either. Slater brings that extra playmaker into the mix, hence why Queensland are so keen to bring him back.

But perhaps it’s time the Maroons closed that chapter as well. Because waiting in the wings is Kalyn Ponga.

If the Blues rookie squad proved anything, it’s that selecting form players has merit. And this year we can all agree that Ponga has been in better form than Slater.

State of Origin: Why Billy Slater feared playing the series opener in an unfit state

  State of Origin: Why Billy Slater feared playing the series opener in an unfit state ''I don’t feel overly injured.''Slater went into Maroons camp on ice after withdrawing late from Melbourne’s latest NRL fixture against the Cowboys in round 12 with a minor hamstring strain.

When Billy Slater pulled out of Origin 1 yesterday with a hamstring strain, the Queensland selectors called in Kalyn Ponga and Anthony Milford to cover. Two for one is decidedly odd, but that strange decision doesn’t compare to not selecting Ponga in the first place.

The Queensland Maroons have lost Billy Slater from their State of Origin team for Game 1 of the series. Anthony Milford and Kalyn Ponga have been brought into the Queensland Maroons camp to cover for his absence.

The Maroons need a spark at the back. Ponga is a better and more frequent kick returner than Slater, while also proving to be just as adept in the playmaking department as the iconic fullback. Queensland’s attack missed that extra spark in Game I and it is Ponga who can rectify that matter.

As for talk about other players being dropped, it might be best for Queensland to not act too hastily. Largely because there’s little for them to choose from due to injuries and retirements. Perhaps they should look at this series the same as they did in 2004-05.

The 2004-05 Maroons squads contained a number of young players between 20 and 22 years of age; Justin Hodges, Corey Parker, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Brent Tate, Willie Tonga, Matt Bowen and Johnathan Thurston. These men became the backbone of Queensland’s era of dominance starting in 2006. Short term pain for long term gain.

Experience gets bandied around a lot, but it wasn’t an issue when Cameron Smith played his first Origin after just 18 first grade games (two of which were at half back and another two from the bench).

Ponga is in his third season and has played 22 games. Despite having nine first grade games under his belt prior to this year, he has handled the responsibilities of the Knights attack largely on his shoulders since new halfback Mitchell Pearce suffered an injury in Round 7, without any sign of struggle.

He has the temperament, maturity, skills and x-factor that Origin specifically requires.

Ponga to make case for Origin call up .
Newcastle fullback has a golden opportunity to demand a Queensland State of Origin call up during Sunday's clash with Melbourne.Newcastle's superstar fullback heads into Sunday's NRL clash with Melbourne on the cusp of a Queensland State of Origin call-up.

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