Kalyn Ponga has been out with a hamstring injury.
Kalyn Ponga has been out with a hamstring injury.

Ponga faces fitness test for Cowboys clash

THE Newcastle Knights will give star fullback Kalyn Ponga every chance to prove his fitness for tomorrow night's showdown with his former club the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium.

Ponga had been named to return from the hamstring injury which kept him out of Newcastle's consecutive wins over the Eels and Titans before rolling his ankle during a field session on Tuesday.

Five-eighth Connor Watson is also in doubt after his ongoing ankle complaint flared up against Gold Coast last weekend and Knights coach Nathan Brown admitted it was tough to make a call on either player until after today's captain's run in Townsville.

"I couldn't even tell you whether they're a good chance or not much chance. They need to actually run and see how they go," Brown said.

"He (Ponga) probably wasn't too far away last week with his hamstring and he's done three really good sessions until he hurt his ankle so we're not expecting any problems."

It will be the first time Ponga has come up against the Cowboys since the former Ignatius Park College student left to take up a big money deal with the Knights.

Brown said Ponga was excited to return to action in Townsville, but the coach felt it was just as important for the Knights to keep building his combination with fellow 2018 recruit Mitchell Pearce.

"I think the fact that he's played here before and he's got a bit of history probably adds a little bit to it for everyone and he's excited to play," Brown said.

"Kalyn's been a very influential player for a long part of the year. To have Mitchell back and all playing together is a real key for us for not only now, but for the future of the club.

"The last couple weeks we've by no means played great, but the key for us is to try and really build some good momentum into the preseason."