Ponga shies away from Knights skipper role | Ralph Lauren

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Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga is unsure if he’s ready for the NRL captaincy just yet but says he wants to lift the standard of training at the club in 2021.

The Queensland and Australia star was named in a five-man leadership group by coach Adam O’Brien last week, with the skipper or captaincy model to be announced before round one in March.

And while the 22-year-old is viewed as a logical future skipper for the Knights, he believes he’s still a work in progress and hasn’t thought about being a captain.

“A lot of what I bring is on the field,” he said on Wednesday.

“There’s probably a lot of areas off the field I can work on around training standards and the way we perform, which is where my leadership comes in.

“I don’t know who will captain the side … but I want to be a leader, it’s something that I’m working on.

“Leadership skills are something that can evolve and I’m just happy to be in the leadership group and we’re all different in what we can bring to the team.”

Jayden Brailey, Mitch Barnett, Blake Green and Daniel Saifiti were also named and there has been suggestions the captaincy may be shared by all five across the season.

Whatever O’Brien decides, he has the backing of Mitchell Pearce.

The former skipper stepped down from the role earlier this month following a texting scandal with a female staff member at the club.

And while he’ll be calling the shots on the field, the off-field pressures of a captain will fall to one of his five teammates – all of whom has his endorsement.

“(Saifiti) was a real standout in Origin this year, watching from the sideline, I know what sort of bloke he is but as a fan, watching him in the Origin he had a real presence out there,” Pearce said.

“He’s a real alpha male within our group and being only 24, he’s only going to develop with his maturity throughout the years.

“Mitch Barnett as well, obviously Greeny has been great for the group.

“He’s an old, wise head who’s played a lot of footy.

“He’s got a very mature footy brain and a good club man.

“Jayden Brailey is a future skipper as well, a good clubman. It’s a really good opportunity now for KP to take that next level with his voice as well.”

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