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NRL: Latest news - Newcastle Knights confirm Kalyn Ponga positional switch

There are now less than two months until the start of the 2023 season and after spending time on the training paddock, teams' plans are starting to fall into place.

Several clubs have made big moves in the market but that seems to be calming down and instead, players and coaches are looking at on-field matters.

There is change afoot for Knights star Kalyn Ponga, while a budding combination for the Broncos only looks set to get stronger.

Ponga heading into the halves

Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien has confirmed 2023 will be the year in which Ponga moves up into the halves.

The Knights struggled to 14th place in 2022, managing just six wins and O'Brien is keen to experiment with the spine of his side heading into the new season.

Ponga has played the majority of his career at full-back but the decision to switch him to the halves was made last year after he was ruled out of his side's remaining six matches of the NRL season following a string of concussion issues.

The boss has confirmed that the 24-year-old has been training there throughout the summer and injury-aside, will play at five-eighth alongside new recruit Jackson Hastings.

O'Brien believes former Wests man Hastings has the "footy head" to guide the team around the field and give Ponga the space he needs to flourish as he settles into life in the halves.

Newcastle are 29/20 in the Game Betting 2-Way to win their 2023 opener away at New Zealand Warriors and O'Brien says the decision to move Ponga to number six has been cemented by the depth he can call upon at full-back.

Bailey Hodgson, Dane Gagai and Tyson Gamble have all spent time training there in the off-season, but the coach has yet to decide who will run on there in Wellington.

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Oates excited to build on Farnworth partnership

Brisbane winger Corey Oates says he is excited about the potential of his burgeoning partnership with centre Herbie Farnworth.

Despite his team missing out on the Finals, Oates returned to his best form in 2022, going over for 20 tries and his performances earned him an Origin recall, coming in for Game 3 as Queensland secured a 2-1 series win.

The 28-year-old has spent time working on his game in a bid to maintain his momentum and believes playing outside Farnworth is only going to help him get better as their partnership develops.

Farnworth played a key role as England made the semi-finals of the World Cup and Oates only expects him to continue his improvement.

The winger believes the partnership has "a lot more to offer", especially as his teammate has come back with renewed confidence following his World Cup exploits.

Oates is the only Broncos player still around since their last Grand Final in 2015 and he will hope his fringe combination can help his side eclipse odds of 18/1 in the Grand Final Winner market.

Cleary opens up on early Panthers struggles

Finally, and he might be viewed as one of the best coaches on the planet, but Ivan Cleary has admitted his return to Penrith nearly ended as he struggled in his first year back at the foot of the Blue Mountains.

Having coached the club between 2012 and 2015, he returned from Wests Tigers ahead of 2019. However, he won just two of his first 10 matches and oversaw a total of 13 losses as his team finished 10th.

After his initial struggles, he has since turned the Panthers into a powerhouse, reaching the last three Grand Finals, losing to the Storm in 2020 before beating South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2021 and the Eels last year.

Having recorded an 88+ per cent win average in the last three seasons, they are now the picture of consistency. After becoming just the second team to win back-to-back Grand Finals, Penrith are 11/4 to make it a hat-trick in NRL 2023.

They look to be building a dynasty, with his son Nathan driving the project on-field from half-back.

However, the 51-year-old has admitted that his first-year doubts almost saw him quit his job.

Speaking to the Get the Edge podcast, he conceded to having moments when he thought about resigning, especially as he felt his presence was undermining his son's development.

Cleary says that he chose to stay on due to the loyalty the Panthers had shown him, and the rest is history.

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