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Allan ready to beat close mate Ponga

Corey Allan grew up playing alongside Kalyn Ponga in the junior touch football ranks in Queensland, but he will put his friendship aside on Sunday when South Sydney aim to end Newcastle’s season.Allan and Ponga joined forces on the touch footy field as kids in Brisbane, while they also competed against each other in the…

Corey Allan grew up playing alongside Kalyn Ponga in the junior touch football ranks in Queensland, but he will put his friendship aside on Sunday when South Sydney aim to end Newcastle’s season.

Allan and Ponga joined forces on the touch footy field as kids in Brisbane, while they also competed against each other in the under 20s.

The pair have built a close connection, but it will mean little on Sunday at ANZ Stadium with a position in the second week of the finals on the line.

“I know KP pretty well and we have been mates, so it will be interesting to come up against him again – especially at this level,” Allan said.

“It was coming up through school when I first versed him, maybe around the under 14s.

“I played with him in a couple of touch sides, and then versing him in league I got to know him a bit more and we came a bit close.

“He is an in-form fullback and we are going to do our best to keep him in check, but I’m just going to focus on my own game.”

Allan is particularly wary of Ponga’s potent step having experienced his freakish fleet-footed skills during their touch footy days.

“He has got a deadly step and he has got an amazing long ball as well,” he said.

“He is made for touch, and if touch were a professionally paid sport, I’m sure he would be the best at it.”

Allan hasn’t ruled out sledging Ponga, especially if Souths rack up a score, although he is concerned he won’t have the energy for barbs.

“I’ll see how the lungs pull up if there is any sledging on the field,” he said.

“We’ll see how it goes.”

Allan has excelled at fullback following Latrell Mitchell’s season-ending hamstring injury back in round 16.

The Rabbitohs’ reigning rookie of the year has made the No.1 jumper his own with standout performances.

Allan revealed Souths coach Wayne Bennett preferred him at fullback so Alex Johnston could remain on the wing as a proven try scorer.

The move has proven to be a masterstroke from Bennett given Johnston ended up finishing the regular season as the NRL’s leading try scorer following his five tries against the Roosters last weekend.

“AJ is a lot faster than me, so he is going to be better at finishing tries on the wing,” Allan said.

“Wayne said we are both good under the high ball, so there is no difference there.

“I think the biggest difference was AJ finishing the tries, that I’m too slow for.”

Allan is also benefiting from regular conversations with Mitchell about playing fullback, even though the injured Souths star isn’t in the team’s NRL bubble.

“We chat nearly every week now, me and Latrell,” he said.

“We message and check up on each other, and he gives me a few pointers here and there.

“He is staying involved as much as he can while he is not in the bubble.”

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