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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Turner

GameDay Squad Rugby League: Round 11 Player In Focus

Each week we will do a deep dive into a player that had a strong performance in the previous round. The player may not have had the top score of the weekend but a solid outing nonetheless. I’ll look to cover the previous rounds performance, outlook for the season ahead, outlook for 2024 and beyond and my recommendation for this player. Let us know your thoughts on who we have down below on all of our social channels: twitter, facebook, instagram, discord.

Round 11 NRL Fantasy player in focus Kalyn Ponga

Player of the Week

Player Name: Kalyn Ponga Age: 25 Club: Newcastle Knights Position: Winger/Fullback Round 11 Score: 61 2023 Ave Score: 17

Round 11 Performance

Ponga showed us that he still has it on attack while playing in the halves. In this performance he came away with 1 try, 3 try assists, 1 line break, 2 line break assists, 3 tackle breaks and 2 offloads on attack, this came to 51 points. In base stats he made 8 tackles, 176 running metres and 99 kick metres, this came to 29 points. On the downside, he had 6 missed tackles, and this came to 18 points in demerits. This was his best performance of the year by a long way and it’s a positive sign seeing him put up these numbers in the halves.

2023 Outlook

The Knights won’t be scoring 46 points every week and with a match against the Sharks next week, Ponga won’t be making his way into my starting side. I’m happy to be proven wrong but as of right now, I don’t like the look of Ponga’s 2023 outlook. This comes down to his lack of experience in the halves and the Knights not being a very good team. If his situation were to change and he became the dominant halve or shifted back to fullback, I would be considering Ponga as a starter. To begin the season, I had Ponga projected to rank 8th in the WFB position, he has now moved outside of my top 10 in my season projections.

GDS Dynasty Ranking

At 25 years old, Ponga should have many years ahead of him in the NRL. He is contracted to the Knights until the end of the 2027 season. The main thing that concerns me about Ponga’s future is the number of concussions he’s had over the last couple of seasons. He may only be one head knock away from an extended stint on the sideline.

After debuting back in 2016 he has chalked up 102 appearances in first grade. From 2018 onwards, Ponga has been a regular starter in the Knights line-up when fit. However, he has only had two 20+ games a season since then and this shows that his durability isn’t the best. With the natural talent Ponga possesses and his ability to break open a game, I believe Ponga still has a bright future in GDS fantasy when he gains more experience in the halves.

JT’s Call

I believe Ponga can become a very good half in GDS fantasy as he has so much natural ability. He will need to impress me against the top teams before he becomes a consideration for my starting team. He will also need to increase his base stats and tidy up his missed tackles.

Ponga has only played nine games at Five-Eighth in first grade, and he is still getting used to the position. He partners Jackson Hastings in the halves and Hastings is the dominant halve of this pairing. As fantasy coaches, we would prefer to start a dominant halve in our team.

There is no denying his talent but due to the inexperience in his current position and not being the dominant halve at the Knights, Ponga won’t be making into my starting team this season. Well at this stage anyway.

I think many coaches may share these thoughts on Ponga and because of this, his card can be found for a steal on the transfer market. As of right now, Ponga may be at the cheapest price he may ever be. If you don’t have his card, I'd be checking out the transfer market to see what deals you can make.

One great thing about Ponga is the position he is listed at in GDS. He is listed at WFB but plays in the halves and halves are generally the highest scoring position. If he can start knocking out regular 50+ scores, he may be a great starting option for coaches at WFB.



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