THE theory first surfaced three years ago, about the same time Cameron Smith labelled him a "freakish talent" who was capable of playing State of Origin after just a handful of first-grade games.
Kalyn Ponga, astute judges were confidently predicting, was destined to become the dominant rugby league player of his generation.
Sporting Declaration certainly wasn't arguing.
From the moment the 19-year-old sensation carved up Manly in his first game after joining the Newcastle Knights from North Queensland, it was obvious he was something special.
As Knights legend and long-time Herald columnist Tony Butterfield noted at the time, not even champions like Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler and Darren Lockyer were having such a profound impact on games at such a young age.
Ponga was not only scorching teams with his footwork and pace from backfield, he had a long and short passing game that most halves could only envy.
As Smith predicted, Ponga did debut in Origin that year, coming off the bench in an unfamiliar role and going close to winning his first game for Queensland with individual brilliance.
If not for an ankle injury that forced him to miss the final two games of the season, he could well have won the Dally M gold medal in his first full top-grade campaign.
The world appeared at his Nike-endorsed feet.
Fast-forward three years, and as Knights fans count down the days until Ponga is cleared to return from off-season shoulder surgery, the goalkicking fullback appears to have reached a pivotal juncture in his career.
To become the best player in the game, he will firstly need to be the best player in his position. And that shapes as a massive challenge in its own right, given the sheer quality of the men wearing the No.1 jerseys around the NRL.
I doubt the game has ever been blessed with a better batch of fullbacks, and last weekend's opening round was a reminder that the role has evolved to the point where there is no more important player on the field.
For starters, Melbourne's Ryan Papenhuyzen picked up where he left off after his Clive Churchill Medal-winning performance in last year's grand final with two electrifying tries in the victory against South Sydney.
At the opposite end of the pitch, Latrell Mitchell was clearly Souths' most dangerous player, and the critics who claimed he would struggle to make the transition from centre must now be having second thoughts.
The dust had barely settled on the first game of the season when James Tedesco issued an emphatic reminder of who is the incumbent Australian Test fullback - and arguably the code's premier player - by scoring a hat-trick for the Roosters in their demolition of Manly.
Parramatta's Clint Gutherson, meanwhile, continued after his breakout 2020 season with two hugely influential displays in the wins against Brisbane and Melbourne.
Then consider Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the Kiwi Rolls Royce who is a former winner of both the Dally M and Golden Boot awards and will be sorely missed when he switches to rugby union next year.
Another young tyro to emerge last season was Gold Coast's AJ Brimson, who scored a spectacular Ponga-style try against the Knights in the final round and followed it up by crossing the stripe on debut for Queensland.
Not forgetting, of course, Manly's mercurial Tom Trbojevic, who when he is not recovering from hamstring injuries can terrorise any opposition defensive line.
Even the lesser lights, like Charnze Nicoll-Klokstaad (Canberra), Dylan Edwards (Penrith), Corey Allan (Canterbury) and Matt Dufty (St George Illawarra), are matchwinners on their day, while Cowboys coach Todd Payten has such a high opinion of Scott Drinkwater that he has switched Valentine Holmes to the wing, despite his reported $1 million-a-season price tag.
So where does that leave Ponga?
Turning 23 later this month, he is still a young man and his best days, logically, are ahead of him, especially if Newcastle can continue to improve and evolve as a team.
The Knights won't be rushing him back from his extensive surgery, and nor should they, given his long-term value to the club.
But every game he misses gives his rivals a head-start in the race for Origin selection. He was ruled out last season and it is worth noting that, since he last represented Queensland, in 2019, the Maroons have turned over four fullbacks: Cameron Munster, Brimson, Holmes and Allan.
The Cane Toads, remember, are defending title-holders and pride themselves on their "pick and stick" policy with winning teams.
In other words, given his delayed start to the season, and the alternative options, there appears no guarantee Ponga will be a certain selection for Queensland.
Speculation about Ponga and new Maroons coach Paul Green falling out during their time together at the Cowboys could be a further complication.
Nonetheless, I'm sure if you asked Knights coach Adam O'Brien and Ponga's teammates, they wouldn't swap KP for any of the players mentioned above.
He's a cool customer, Ponga, but he's also a competitor. The challenge he now faces from a host of rival fullbacks could yet prove the making of him.