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Ponga 'not ready' for Emerging Maroons

AAP logoAAP 9/12/2016 Laine Clark

Queensland coach Kevin Walters has resisted the urge to stake an early claim for Kalyn Ponga's allegiances, overlooking the NRL prodigy for the 2017 Emerging Maroons squad.

Walters officially lifted a 12 month Origin ban on seven of the eight players who broke curfew at January's camp when he unveiled his 20-strong squad on Friday.

But Ponga was a glaring omission.

Ponga, 18, is one of the NRL's hottest properties after signing a lucrative four-year deal with Newcastle from 2018 despite playing just two first grade games.

It had been set to intensify the international tug of war over Ponga.

The Perth-born teenager is eligible to play for Australia and New Zealand thanks to his Kiwi dad but is yet to make up his mind.

Walters admitted he was unsure if Ponga was eligible to be picked for Queensland.

But Walters claimed he would have overlooked Ponga for his Emerging Maroons squad regardless.

"I am not sure where we are at," Walters said of Ponga's allegiances.

"Regardless of where he's at, he's not going to be selected in this Emerging team.

"We have got some great young talent coming through like Cameron Munster, Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt, Valentine Holmes.

"At the moment these guys are a fair way in front of him as far as football goes."

Ponga may be the highest paid teenager in league history but Walters all but played down the hype swirling around the youngster on Friday.

"He has only had two games of first grade," he said.

"He needs to play bit more first grade before we have a look at him for these camps. He's not quite ready."

Walters welcomed back Holmes, Milford, Munster, Hunt, Edrick Lee, Dylan Napa and Jarrod Wallace to the squad despite this year's controversy.

The seven players plus Penrith's Chris Grevsmuhl all copped 12 month Origin bans for breaking curfew at the camp.

Grevsmuhl was not considered for the next camp after leaving the NRL last month to deal with "personal issues".

Walters was convinced January's controversy would be a "one off" and ruled out curfews or booze bans for the next camp in late January.

"I think they are men enough now to know what is required of them at these camps," he said.

Walters said the seven players had shown they had learned their lesson.

"I think they showed with their football on the field (they had learned lesson)," he said.

"We are going to need these guys to stand up in the next couple of years. For that to happen they have to mature as individuals and I am sure they have."

The squad featured four new faces - Cowboys backrower Coen Hess, Melbourne's Felise Kaufusi, Gold Coast half Ashley Taylor and Storm's Christian Welch.

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