Rugby league: Newcastle Knights willing to help Kalyn Ponga's All Blacks dream

  • 26/02/2020

Kayln Ponga's All Black dream could be edging closer, with his NRL club offering him a lucrative new deal that allows a switch to rugby in 2023.

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports the Newcastle Knights want to make the talented fullback one of the five highest-paid players in the history of the competition. 

The deal apparently includes an option allowing Ponga to pursue his childhood dream of playing for the All Blacks at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. 

Knights chief executive Phillip Gardner confirmed that negotiations were underway to completely restructure Ponga's current deal through 2022.

"We've told the Ponga family we'd like KP to extend his time with us," Gardner told the SMH. "We've offered him an upgraded contract for 2020-21 on the basis of an extension. 

"The family know how much we want to keep him at Newcastle and they will come back to us with their view."

The new deal would reportedly lock Ponga to the Knights until the end of the 2025 season, with the rugby 'out' clause thought to be a sweetener to fend off interest from rival rugby league clubs. 

Ponga's "talent" is All Black level 

"I'd be really surprised if the All Blacks weren't talking to him now, that's the kind of talent we are talking about here," Gardner said.

"He could play for the All Blacks or the Wallabies, or he may end up going to Japan or Europe. 

"We genuinely want the best for the young man and while ever he wants to play rugby league, we want him to play here at Newcastle in an environment he enjoys.

"We have obviously put a deal forward that we believe is in the best interest of the club, but also in the best interest of him."

Ponga, 21, was born in Australia, but has NZ parents and spent five years of his childhood in Palmerston North, before returning to Queensland.

He has represented Queensland, Australia and NZ Māori in the 13-man code.