Ponga backs housemate Hoy for No.1 jersey

Scott Bailey
Tex Hoy is poised to make his NRL debut for Newcastle in place of suspended housemate Kalyn Ponga

Kalyn Ponga will take the same hands-off approach Billy Slater once offered him when readying young gun Tex Hoy to fill his shoes at Newcastle.

Slater gently groomed Ponga to inherit Slater's fullback jersey at Queensland, and the Knights' star will adopt the approach with housemate Hoy as he sits out the round three due to suspension.

Hoy, touted as one of Newcastle's most exciting young talents, already has the backing of coach Adam O'Brien and now Ponga has offered low key support.

A Newcastle junior, Hoy impressed in reserve grade last season as a teenager and in this year's Nines.

He also played fullback for NSW in last year's under-20s State of Origin win and like Ponga can act as a playmaker in the halves, if required.

"He's his own person and the best advice I got from Billy Slater was 'this is how I did it, but do it your way'," Ponga said.

"Because he's my good mate I don't really want to give him too much (advice).

"Everyone prepares for their debut differently, I'm not going to say 'you have to do this or you have to do that'.

"At training he will say like 'what do you do out of yardage, what do you do here?'.

"But when we go home he's not sitting next to me at the dinner table in my ear."

Hoy, 20, could also pick up the goal-kicking duties during Ponga's one-week absence with he and Kurt Mann the main caretaker options.

Quick on his feet, Hoy was only promoted to the Knights' top 30 a week before the season began after an impressive pre-season.

"He's been knocking on the door," Ponga said.

"His effort, his want to debut has been there, so it's exciting.

"I'm excited to sit back and watch him. He's a pretty confident kid. The boys believe in him."

Ponga, who scored tries in both of Newcastle's victories before the COVID-19 shut down, was confident the Knights could pick up where they left off when the season resumes on May 28.

"It's about building on what we did before we left. Our defence has to be the main focus," he said.