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Cowboys rule out early release for Ponga

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5 days ago Laine Clark

North Queensland have slammed the door shut on New Zealand NRL prodigy Kalyn Ponga receiving an early release to join rivals Newcastle.

The Knights officially confirmed Ponga had signed a four-year deal from 2018 on Monday - then kept their fingers crossed the gifted teenager would "arrive at an earlier date".

However, Cowboys football manager Peter Parr said Ponga would see out his North Queensland contract in 2017.

It echoed Cowboys coach Paul Green's stance when news first broke earlier this month that the 18-year-old had signed a lucrative Newcastle contract reportedly worth up to $A700,000 ($NZ740,000) a season.

It would make him the highest paid teenager in NRL history.

"We've been on record to say we have ruled it out - we won't be releasing him," Parr told AAP.

"He's contracted with us."

Newcastle prompted speculation that Ponga may be released when they officially confirmed the teenager's signing.

"As it stands, we are excited about Kalyn joining us in 2018," Newcastle chief executive Matt Gidley said in a statement.

"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."

Ponga, of Maori descent, was born in Western Australia but spent much of his childhood in Palmerston North before shfting to Queensland five years ago.

As a junior Ponga was chased by six clubs and four sports before committing to the Cowboys.

Ponga then signed the lucrative Knights deal after playing just two NRL games for North Queensland.

He made his NRL debut on the wing in the Cowboys' finals win over Brisbane in September as an injury replacement.

Named at fullback in the NRL under 20s Team of the Year, Ponga was then retained for North Queensland's preliminary final loss to Melbourne a week later.

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