Watson to plot Ponga's All Stars downfall

Connor Watson will be plotting against Newcastle teammate Kayln Ponga in the NRL All Stars clash.
Connor Watson will be plotting against Newcastle teammate Kayln Ponga in the NRL All Stars clash.

Forget Latrell Mitchell.

It is Kalyn Ponga's roommate Connor Watson who has suddenly emerged as the man the Indigenous outfit will rely on to shut down the Maori X-factor in Saturday's NRL All Stars clash on the Gold Coast.

All the pre-match hype may have been dominated by Indigenous No.1 Mitchell's long-awaited fullback duel with Ponga.

However, utility Watson claimed he knew what made Ponga tick as his Newcastle flatmate and teammate.

And he had no problem plotting his close friend's downfall with the Indigenous brains trust.

"I know how he works," Watson said on Thursday.

"We spend most of every day together. We live together and train together.

"Obviously we're really close so we can have those honest conversations with each other about things we need to improve on.

"We've got a few things in place (top stop Ponga). We'll see if they work on Saturday night."

But Watson admitted stopping the livewire fullback was easier said than done.

"It's a different thing knowing how someone plays but then actually stopping it," he said.

"Everyone studies footage of him but he still seems to do what he does."

Watson was coy on what plans would be in place for Ponga but did reveal his own personal tactic.

"I might try to rip his headgear off, we'll see what happens," he laughed.

"It will be funny. I played him once in the under 20s, we didn't really know each other back then.

"Now I guess it's a bit of a personal battle."

If Ponga was worried about Watson spilling the beans on his weaknesses in the Indigenous camp, it didn't show on Thursday.

Asked if Watson had some inside information on him, Ponga said: "Maybe a little bit.

"I am sure he is telling the big boys to come after me.

"We always try to get one over each other at training. Hopefully I get one over him (on Saturday night)."

Ponga seemed more preoccupied by the Mitchell threat.

"I am looking forward to it. We get to see Latrell in the No.1 jersey so I am excited to see how he goes as well," he said.

"I don't know what to expect (from Mitchell). It's his first game (at No.1). Hopefully we both go well and it is a good game."

Australian Associated Press