Knights coach Adam O'Brien has shelved plans to rest star fullback Kalyn Ponga for Saturday's clash against Melbourne if he gets through Origin III tonight on the Gold Coast unscathed.
O'Brien had originally penciled in this weekend off for the 23-year-old had he played the entire Origin series. But the coach will now, for the most part, leave it up to his fullback to decide if he is right to back up against the Storm at AAMI Park.
"KP knows his body better than anyone so if he comes out of Wednesday night's game telling me he is good to go and our medical staff green light it, I'll certainly run him out," O'Brien said.
"That wasn't our plan originally- the plan was to give him this game off but given he hasn't played a lot of footy and this is his first Origin game, the chance is there now for him to back up if he is 100 percent. If he's not quite right, he won't play."
Given Ponga is only one game back from an eight week injury, there will no doubt be some concerns around him playing against Melbourne on a three-day turnaround given the intensity and physicality of Origin. The benefit versus the risk will need to be weighed up.
Tonight will be Ponga's first Origin game for Queensland in more than two years as the Maroons attempt to prevent the NSW Blues from completing a clean-sweep of the series after thrashings in the opening two games.
A third straight defeat for the Maroons would be all the more embarrassing given Queensland will have hosted all three games.
Ponga missed last year's series due to shoulder surgery while a groin tear kept him out of the opening two games this year. His last game was in Origin II in 2019 with Queensland on the end of a 38-6 hiding in Perth.
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