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Ponga to develop more at Cowboys: Meninga

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/12/2016 Laine Clark

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga says Newcastle will reap long-term benefits if NRL prodigy Kalyn Ponga sees out his North Queensland contract in 2017.

The Knights are still hopeful of New Zealand-raised Ponga being released from the final year of his Cowboys deal after confirming they had signed the teenager on a lucrative four-year contract from 2018.

But Meninga believes Ponga, 18, would gain the development he needed to cope with the intense Newcastle spotlight with another year under Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan and Lachlan Coote at North Queensland.

"Kalyn has another year to go with the Cowboys and I think he will really benefit from that," Meninga told Queensland Former Origin Greats website.

"Having another 12 months where he is just a part of a successful machine under (Cowboys coach) Paul Green ... will help his development a lot before he is the one in the spotlight at Newcastle.

"All the publicity, all the hype, and all the talk about the size of his contract means that he will be under pressure to deliver straight away in Newcastle, and that is a lot of pressure for a teenaged kid to handle."

Meninga admitted he was surprised Ponga had signed with a rebuilding Newcastle after Melbourne were reportedly also vying with North Queensland for his services.

Ponga signed the lucrative Knights deal after playing just two NRL games for the Cowboys.

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