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Ponga Test future still up in the air

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/02/2017 Angelo Risso

Cowboys prodigy Kalyn Ponga is no closer to settling his international rugby league future.

The 18-year-old, who plays primarily at fullback or five-eighth, was born in Western Australia to a Kiwi father, making him eligible for both countries.

He has thus been at the centre of an international tug of war, with both the Kangaroos and Kiwis keen to snap him up for the future.

Ponga was part of a New Zealand train-on squad in 2015 but has also attended a Queensland development camp and represented the state at junior level.

He gave nothing away when asked about his eligibility on Friday, saying only that he was yet to make a final decision.

"I'm just focusing on the Cowboys now," Ponga said.

"I haven't really thought about it."

Often referred to as the next Johnathan Thurston, Ponga inked a lucrative four-year deal with the Newcastle Knights from 2018 in November.

He has played just two first-grade games for the Cowboys, both in last year's NRL finals series as the Townsville side bowed out in the semi-finals.

Ponga said he will look to use his last 12 months in northern Queensland learning from players such as Thurston, Michael Morgan and Lachlan Coote.

He then hoped to take those lessons to the Hunter, where he will be the best-paid teenager in rugby league history.

"I'm still learning off the greats, it's hard not to absorb what they're doing, so just (want) a good season to bounce off," Ponga said.

Thurston, for his part, acknowledged that the reported $A700,000 pay cheque would place plenty of pressure on Ponga to perform.

But he backed him to succeed in Newcastle regardless.

"He's a pretty cool, calm kid, nothing fazes him too much, he takes everything in his stride," the Cowboys co-captain said.

"He's an amazing talent, but you'll just have to wait and see how he goes."

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

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