Latrell Mitchell’s looming switch to fullback for Saturday’s NRL All Stars match has transformed the game into a mouthwatering duel with rival No.1 Kalyn Ponga.
Mitchell confirmed on Monday his desire to play fullback this year after his off-season switch to South Sydney. He is eager to cut his teeth in the position for the Indigenous All Stars at CBUS Super Stadium.
With excitement machine Ponga set to play fullback for the NZ Maori team, it’s a prospect which should terrify both defences and delight fans.
Ponga played five-eighth in last year’s All Stars as part of an aborted attempt at a positional switch by then Newcastle coach Nathan Brown.
Maori coach David Kidwell said having both superstars being given a licence to roam was a enticing prospect.
“Two big superstars of the game, both bring exciting traits to the game and obviously to both sides,” Kidwell said.
“Young Kalyn, just seeing him around the guys, the way he carries himself, when he plays his football, great young fella and a future leader.
“Just admiring some of the stuff that he does on the field.”
Kidwell also has Canterbury’s Dallin Watene-Zelezniak at his disposal and admits there will be periods in Saturday’s match when the New Zealand international will relieve Ponga at fullback.
“We need to look after Kalyn when the opportunity arises and Dallin will play some fullback, as will Jahrome (Hughes). We’ll have a look at those interchanges,” he said.
Both teams held their first training sessions on a humid morning on the Gold Coast along with the two women’s teams, who will play a curtain-raiser before the main game.