Kalyn Ponga Photo: Getty Images
Cowboys rookie Kalyn Ponga has officially signed with the Newcastle Knights.
“The boom Cowboys rookie signed over the weekend to start in 2018,” reported The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield. Read the full Knights statement below.
Knights Official Statement
The Newcastle Knights is delighted to officially announce the signing of Kalyn Ponga, who will join the Club in 2018 on a four-year deal.
A talented fullback, 18-year-old Ponga has played two NRL matches to date, both in the 2016 finals series with the North Queensland Cowboys.
Also named at fullback in the 2016 NYC Team of the Year, Ponga’s signing corresponds with the Knights’ long-term strategy of building a talented young roster and further complements the existing local talent.
“There is no doubt Kalyn is a very talented and exciting young player and his signing is definitely a coup for the Club,” coach Nathan Brown said on Monday.
“We look forward to further developing his talent and welcoming his family to Newcastle.”
Ponga’s family played a crucial role in the young fullback’s decision to join the Knights.
“To secure Kalyn from 2018 is really pleasing for everyone at the Club,” CEO Matt Gidley said.
“Kalyn made this decision with his family and he’s excited to be a part of the future of our Club.”
While the Club looks forward to welcoming Ponga, the 18-year-old remains contracted to the Cowboys for next season.
“As it stands, we are excited about Kalyn joining us in 2018,” Gidley added.
“Should the Cowboys decide to release Kalyn before the conclusion of his contract, we would certainly welcome him to the Club at an earlier date.”
Earlier On Triple M
North Queensland coach Paul Green admitted he was disappointed by Ponga's defection to Newcastle but won't consider an early release to the Knights for the NRL prodigy.
The Cowboys will lose Ponga in 2018 after the 18-year-old was offered a $3.6 million, five-year Knights deal after playing just two games for the Cowboys.
It is potentially the richest contract for a teenager in league's history.
"We wanted to keep Kalyn, he's a good young talent and been in our system for a little while now," Green said.
"But we will move on."
Ponga is contracted with the Cowboys until the end of next year.
Green said the teenager would not be released or relegated to reserve grade despite the Knights deal.
"He is still a contracted player for next year, he is still in our plans," Green said.
"I am going to pick the best team possible and if Kalyn is part of that he will be part of the team."
Kalyn Ponga Photo: Getty Images
Asked about the lucrative deal offered Ponga by Newcastle, Green said: "It's not for me to comment.
"But if it came down to money we were never going to be in the hunt."
Ponga made his NRL debut on the wing in the Cowboys' finals win over Brisbane in September as a replacement for the injured Antonio Winterstein.
He played in the preliminary final loss to Melbourne a week later.
As a junior, Ponga was chased by six clubs and four sports including AFL and rugby union before committing to the Cowboys.
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