Even the most creative minds in the entertainment world could have come up with the scenario that is unfolding in reality as the Queensland Maroons prepare for State of Origin 1 as the game looms ever larger and closer to getting underway.
Billy Slater has been scratched. That creates a void not easily filled, but Michael Ennis is certain that the right man for the job would be Kalyn Ponga.
Ennis would like to see Ponga taken to fill the role of super-sub that was supposed to be Michael Morgan’s, but Morgan is expected to move into a starting sport.
This sort of situation, regardless of who is proposed, inevitably evokes the routine questions, such as is the player ready for the big state, etcetera, yada, yada, yada, ad infinitum.
Everybody had a first time for everything. We recall instances where we crashed and instances where we soared when challenged to move beyond our comfort zones.
Some would opine that asking Ponga to ping straight back after just three days after playing such a prominent role for the Newcastle Knights’ win over the Parramatta Eels is asking too much.
Ponga, just 20 years of age, was doubtless ready for another game within an hour or two of the completion of the game with the Eels.
Ennis turned that argument on its head when he told NRL Tonight, “I think it’s a perfect time to come into an Origin camp. He hasn’t had that long build up, he hasn’t had a lot of time to think about it on the back of a tremendous performance on Saturday night against the Eels. What a player to bring in.”
Origin roles are typically reserved for those with more blood on their jerseys, but even Ben Ikin, who set the mark for youngest Maroon of all time when he debuted at the age of 18, is of a similar mindset to Ennis.
“If you were ever going to take a risk on someone as young as Kalyn Ponga this is the year to do it … Eleven rookies in the Blues side,” he said on NRL 360.