Ponga’s future uncertain after Knights pull contract extension over father’s influence

Newcastle skipper Kalyn Ponga could be headed for the Dolphins next year after the Knights reportedly withdrew their multimillion-dollar offer to the star fullback.

While he was on the field for Sunday’s Round 6 clash with St George Illawarra in Wollongong, a report was published by The Daily Telegraph which claimed the Knights had taken their deal off the table due to the increasing interference from Ponga’s father Andre.

Ponga is contracted to Newcastle until the end of 2024 but has options in his favour for the final two years of the deal. The Knights had reportedly agreed to a new five-year contract and wanted to announce it last week but were told by his father that he wanted to wait.

The Dolphins have made no secret of their desire to land a face of the franchise for their debut year in 2023 with Ponga and his Queensland teammate Cameron Munster at the top of their hit list.

Knights Immortal Andrew Johns on Channel Nine commentary during the half-time break at WIN Stadium said he would be surprised if the club had told Ponga the deal was no longer on offer.

“I don’t believe it, simple as that. They want to keep Kalyn at all costs and I don’t believe they’d pull that extension,” he said.

Ponga’s form has been below his usual high standards this season as he has been hampered by a nagging knee injury.

“It’s disruptive for the Newcastle Knights,” former premiership-winning coach Shane Flanagan said on Fox League. “For Newcastle, I hope he stays. But it does sound like it’s dragging on and on and on. We thought last week there was going to be an announcement that he’d extended and was gonna stay and then all of a sudden there’s a backflip there.”

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