‘Phenomenal’: Seibold praises Knights danger man
KALYN Ponga is a "phenomenal" player who "could be anything" in rugby league.
That is the stunning assessment of Newcastle's gun fullback from concerned South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold.
"We have to make sure we don't give him too much space - it's going to be important for us to put him in a phone box, so to speak," Seibold said.
Seibold is acutely aware of the damage Ponga presents at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The Rabbitohs coach raved about Ponga - and no wonder, the kid is something special.
"It's obviously been challenging for the first eight teams because he has had 68 tackles breaks in eight games, which is phenomenal," Seibold said.
"I think the closest person to him is 43 tackle breaks, that's James Tedesco. It shows how much of an impact he has had on the team.
"He could be anything in the game. He has shown potential - everyone has known about him since he was 14 or 15.
"Sometimes when there is a lot of hype around a kid at that age, they don't go on for whatever reasons, because of the pressure. But he is delivering on his potential.
"He certainly has all the ability in the world and you'll think he will represent at some stage; if not this year, certainly in the next 24 months, for sure."
Seibold said his team must consistently place pressure on Ponga's kick-return runs.
"He has great confidence and is playing good footy," Seibold said.
"It will be a big challenge for our defence this week, particularly our right edge. But we practised well during the week and are confident of giving a good account of ourselves."
Newcastle continue to improve despite the crushing loss of halfback Mitchell Pearce for the season through injury.
The Knight secured a memorable win last week, taking out Manly 18-12 at Brookvale.
"Their position on the table indicates how well they have gone this season," Seibold said. "Sitting in sixth after a couple of really challenging years is well deserved.
"They have some really key individuals, particularly Ponga. It will be a big test for us.
"We're not where we need to be, we're not where we want to be. I'm comfortable but not content. We have had a positive start, we think. But there is plenty for us to work on and building a bit of pressure on teams is the next step for us."
Souths trained at picturesque North Sydney Oval before continuing their journey to Newcastle. Norths are also Souths' feeder team.
"We are off the field at Redfern for a couple of weeks, they've got the winter grass growing," Seibold said. "I love my footy and history and North Sydney Oval is a really famous old ground in Sydney.
"I love the ground, being here brings back some fantastic memories. It's great for the guys although they probably won't remember the Bears being in the comp."