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Knights ready for early Ponga NRL arrival

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3 days ago Scott Bailey

Newcastle chief executive Matt Gidley hasn't given up hope on New Zealand fullback Kalyn Ponga joining the NRL club in 2017, despite him remaining on contract to North Queensland.

The Knights officially announced on Monday Ponga was joining the club on a four-year deal from 2018 - the same day Cowboys officials confirmed to AAP they wouldn't entertain releasing the talented youngster early.

But while Gidley on Tuesday reiterated North Queensland's stance, he said the club would be ready to pounce if the Cowboys reversed their decision.

"Things may change and we're well positioned to bring Kalyn (early) if they change their position," Gidley said.

"I think it's important that everyone recognises that Kalyn is contracted to the Cowboys for 2017 and we need to respect that.

"If the Cowboys decide to change their position, we would certainly entertain bringing him here early."

Gidley said he sympathised with Cowboys officials after they had done the hard work to develop the 18-year-old Ponga.

"It's happened to us a number of times over the past 30 years," Gidley said.

"We've developed players and we've lost them to other clubs, so I understand the Cowboys were probably disappointed.

"But there were a number of NRL clubs who were interested in recruiting Kalyn and some other codes as well."

Ponga, who spent much of his childhood in Palmerston North, has played just two NRL games, making his debut for North Queensland in their 2016 semi-final win over Brisbane.

After impressing in under-20s for the past two years, he made six tackle busts and two linebreaks, telling enough for Gidley to indicate he could be the club's fullback of the future.

"If you look at him purely from a ball-running point of view, he certainly looks like a Benji Marshall or a Shaun Johnson or a Roger Tuivasa- Sheck.

"He's certainly got that ability to beat people and to score tries."

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