Wonder kid, loveable larrikin to bamboozle Blues
ONE is the quietly confident wonder kid. The other oozes larrikin charm.
Together, the ultra-cool Kalyn Ponga and the carefree Cameron Munster are the attacking cocktail that will spearhead Queensland's assault on the Blues in Origin I on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium.
Former Maroons skipper Darren Lockyer believes Ponga and Munster will be 10-year Origin players and the pair plan to shake-up the Blues with a potent left-edge strikeforce in the series opener.
While Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans will provide the direction on Wednesday night, it is the unpredictability and game-breaking instincts of Ponga and Munster that will have the Blues on Maroon alert.
Ponga's freakish ability to ghost outside his defenders with an imperceptible turn of speed makes him a primary threat, but the rookie Maroons fullback believes five-eighth Munster can be equally lethal attacking the Blues.
"I want him to do that (attack the Blues)," Ponga said.
"When he does that he's terrifying. When Cam plays for the Storm and does that (runs the ball), I hate it.
"I just have to feed off Cam, it's crazy what he can do with the ball. He's so skilful, so anytime I can get the ball from him, that will make us dangerous."
It is the body language of Ponga and Munster over the past week in Camp Maroon that underlines their precocious footballing gifts.
The 21-year-old Ponga has played just one Origin fixture but already has the respect of a 20-game Maroons veteran.
And while Munster, 24, has played just four Origin matches and one full series, his dominance in the No.6 jumper has upheld the legacy of Queensland's iconic pivots Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Wally Lewis.
Groomed to be Billy Slater's fullback successor at Melbourne, Munster always yearned to wear the Storm and Queensland No.1 jumper, but Ponga's emergence has convinced him he is best suited in the frontline.
"I will end up staying at six," Munster said.
"I've put too much weight on to be honest to go back to fullback.
"I played all my football at fullback and that's all I knew.
"For me to change positions was a bit challenging but I've really embraced it and I'm really loving my footy at the moment. I get the footy on my hands a lot more when I want it and that's something to focus on."
Munster accepts his ability to establish an attacking rapport with Ponga could make or break Queensland in Origin I.
"Kalyn is in form, so I need to get him the ball," he said. "It's important I do a bit more talking out there and just let 'KP' play his natural game."
Ponga has been so laidback in Camp Maroon he looks like he's about to head out for a Suncorp picnic.
"Nah, I'm not feeling pressure," he says with a laugh.
"I'm pretty relaxed actually.
"Fullback is a position I'm comfortable with and I'm around some elite players so that makes my job easier."