Kalyn Ponga's Maori All-Stars showing is irrelevant to the style of football he'll play for Newcastle at five-eighth this year, Knights coach Nathan Brown insists.
Ponga played in the No.6 jersey for just the second time in the Maoris' loss to the Indigenous All-Stars last Friday night, amidst a difficult night for the wunderkind.
The 20-year-old's move from fullback to the halves is one of the hottest topics in the NRL this pre-season, after he went within two points of becoming the youngest Dally M Medal winner last year.
Ponga will return to five-eighth in Newcastle's pre-season trial against St George Illawarra on Saturday night, a fixture Brown is far more concerned with after Ponga's only NRL showing at No.6 against Penrith last year.
"I would argue the people he played with him the other day have never played with him and don't know how he plays," Brown said.
"And he probably played in the halves with another five-eighth/fullback (in Jahrome Hughes) as well, rather than a halfback.
"You can't go on those type of games. Give it a little bit of time and over time it will run its course.
"He played five-eighth against Penrith last year on one foot, and he played reasonably well."
Ponga will at least find himself in more familiar settings against the Dragons at Kogarah.
Halves partner Mitchell Pearce has been instrumental in his shift to the front line, equipping him with the organising skills required should he need to take over.
The pair played just 11 games together last year for the Knights, but Ponga has leant on a man desperate to help complete the Newcastle rebuild in 2019.
"I've got the assistance of Mitchell Pearce as my mentor and teaching me," Ponga told AAP while in a promotion for V8 Juice.
"He's so open to handing knowledge down and seeing us improve. He's very passionate about seeing younger blokes achieve things and get better.
"He could probably sit there and go, 'I don't want to be challenged for my position', but he doesn't have that mindset. He's willing to give.
"I'm lucky he's on my team and helping me in my position."
Australian Associated Press