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Billy Slater hoping to make Kalyn Ponga forget about All Blacks dream by dangling Queensland carrot

Rugby league great Billy Slater has given a firm piece of advice to young talent Kalyn Ponga - forget the All Blacks and become a Queensland great.

Slater told the Sydney Morning Herald he's been working with Ponga in the lead up to tonight's State of Origin opener with the young star taking over the No.1 jersey he donned for years.

"I’ve just been working with Kalyn on making sure he’s got a bit of variety around his game. Teams will start working out how to limit him. Being able to evolve his game is really important.

Kalyn Ponga and Billy Slater
Kalyn Ponga and Billy Slater Source: Getty

"We worked on the fundamentals of being a good fullback for a long time. But the last thing I want to do is shape Kalyn into something he is not."

But how long Ponga plays for the Maroons is up in the air after the 21-year-old told TVNZ1's Marae last year he also has dreams of swapping codes and playing for the All Blacks.

"Obviously, that (playing for the All Blacks) would be a huge goal, if I was to come back to union I’d want to tick," Ponga said at the time.

"I’m not too sure what my future holds whether I’m going to stay in league or change codes but if I was to go back to rugby union I’d probably want to strive for that black jumper, it’s the pinnacle.

"They’re the best sporting organisation in the world, stats have showed that and the way they hold themselves, their values, their morals, the little things they do make them that step above everyone else.

"To put that jersey on would be special."

Read more: ‘To put that jersey on would be special’ - Is NRL star Kalyn Ponga a future All Black in the making?

But if Slater has his way, Ponga will stick around the Queensland camp for years to come and potentially become one of their greats.

"I think he can be a future captain of Queensland," Slater said.

"He’s only 21-years-old, but the way he understands the game, the presence that he already has in the group, I can see him captaining for a long time."

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The Queensland Origin star says he would strive to be an All Black if he ever returned to rugby, the code he played so successfully as a schoolboy. Source: 1 NEWS


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