Former Souths junior Kalyn Ponga in his debut game for the North Queensland Cowboys against the Brisbane Broncos.
Former Souths junior Kalyn Ponga in his debut game for the North Queensland Cowboys against the Brisbane Broncos. Darren England

Ponga becomes a Knight in Cowboys clothing

RUGBY LEAGUE: North Queensland boom colt Kalyn Ponga has officially signed the lucrative deal with Newcastle that sent the NRL into a spin.

The 18-year-old fullback, who has played just two first-grade games, has signed a contract worth about $600,000-a-year. With representative bonuses he could earn well over $3 million over the four-year contract period.

Ponga remains linked to North Queensland for 2017 but Knights chief executive Matt Gidley hoped he could join Newcastle for next season.

"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," Gidley said

That remains unlikely. Cowboys 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.

"We wanted to keep Kalyn, he's a good young talent and been in our system for a little while now," Green said.

Green said the teenager would not be released or relegated to reserve grade despite the Knights deal.

"I am going to pick the best team possible and if Kalyn is part of that he will be part of the team," Green said.

Ponga was born in Western Australia and spent time living in Mount Isa and New Zealand, before he and his family settled in Mackay in 2011.



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