QUEENSLAND coach Kevin Walters has confirmed Newcastle young gun Kalyn Ponga will make his debut for the Maroons after naming an 18-man squad for Origin II.

The 20-year-old superstar takes the place of Anthony Milford on the bench, who filled the utility role in Queensland's 22-12 Game 1 loss in Melbourne.

Kalyn Ponga has been named in the Maroons squad for Origin II.
Kalyn Ponga has been named in the Maroons squad for Origin II.

The decision to blood the talented youngster comes after recently-retired Maroons skipper Cameron Smith called for his inclusion after Melbourne defeated the Knights 28-10 on Sunday.

"I think he has to be there just given the situation for Queensland," Smith said.

"It's a must-win game - we all know that and Kevvie understands that - and you need someone who can create opportunities for the team and can win a game. "Certainly Kalyn Ponga is someone who can do that."

"The ease that he creates opportunities for his outside men, it looks too easy.

"Talking to our outside backs there after the game, when they think they have him and in a position to contain him, he just changes position really quickly and they're beaten."

Some thought Ponga may have been given the nod in Origin I when fullback Billy Slater was ruled out with a hamstring injury, but Walters opted to play Cowboys playmaker Michael Morgan in the No. 1 jersey and bring Milford onto the bench.

Ponga wasn't at his best for Newcastle against the Storm on Sunday, but still scored a try and had a hand in the Knights' only other four-pointer to go with his nine tackle busts and two linebreaks.

Told of Smith's comments, Ponga said he was ready to play at fullback or anywhere required of him as a bench utility.

"Put me anywhere and I will play," he said. "Honestly, I would love to play, I just want to play."

Prop Jarrod Wallace came under fire for an underwhelming showing at the MCG but keeps his place while front-row partner Dylan Napa will be given time to prove his fitness as he recovers from an ankle injury.



1. Billy Slater

2. Valentine Holmes

3. Greg Inglis

4. Will Chambers

5. Dane Gagai

6. Cameron Munster

7. Ben Hunt

8. Dylan Napa

9. Andrew McCullough

10. Jarrod Wallace

11. Gavin Cooper

12. Felise Kaufusi

13. Josh McGuire


14. Kalyn Ponga

15. Coen Hess

16. Josh Papalii

17. Jai Arrow

18. Tim Glasby

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