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'I want to get better' - Kalyn Ponga inspired by Queensland great Billy Slater

Inspired by mentor Billy Slater, Kalyn Ponga is itching to unleash his freakish talent from fullback in this year's State of Origin series.

The 21-year-old's form coming into the Origin camp has NSW and Queensland players talking about his game-breaking ability.

While NSW are talking up their specific plans to nullify Ponga, Maroons teammates are buzzing about playing alongside the Newcastle phenomenon.

After making his debut in last year's game two from the bench, Wednesday's series opener in Brisbane will be Ponga's first in the No.1 jersey which Slater had made his own for the best part of a decade.

The ex-Melbourne star has spent time advising Ponga this week during training sessions, providing an insight on how he can make the position his own at Origin level.

"He's very clear and obviously knows what he's talking about," Ponga said.

"Anytime I can talk to him and listen to him is beneficial to me. I just want to get as much information out of him as I can.

"Obviously, we've seen what he can do with it but people don't really get to see what he does off it (the field) until you've watched it from different views, talked to him. That's what, as a fullback, I want to get better at and that's what I admire."

The hype around Ponga and the burden of replacing a legend like Slater potentially might be too much for someone who is only one game into an Origin career.

Not the ice-cool Ponga, however, whose combination with five-eighth Cameron Munster will give NSW's edge defence plenty to think about leading into next week's match.

"As a fullback, that's what you want to do - you want to be supporting and sniffing around," he said.

"Always moving, always looking for opportunities and that's what I'm hopefully going to do on Wednesday."

Ponga sits in the top 10 for most of the major NRL attacking and scoring stats in 2019.

He's scored 116 points - only three behind competition leader Latrell Mitchell - as well as ninth for tries scored (seven), second for line breaks (13) and third for tackle busts (44).

Ominously, Ponga says there's more to come and he can draw on his solitary 2018 Origin experience.

"I got some confidence out of that game last year, definitely in defence, knowing that I can tackle and whatnot," he said.

"I'll just take that into this year. Got a job to do, be confident and, yeah, just try and do it."

The Maroons will have a day off on Saturday after completing a contested session on Friday against the Queensland under-18s in Brisbane.

Josh McGuire and Jai Arrow undertook light duties and left the session early as they continued their rehab from calf and quad injuries.

But neither is understood to be in doubt for Wednesday's game.

Kalyn Ponga during the Holden State of Origin, Game 2. New South Wales Blues v Queensland Maroons , ANZ Stadium,  Sydney, Australia. 24th June 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Kalyn Ponga in action for the Queensland Maroons during a State of Origin match against the NSW Blues. Source: Photosport


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