Newcastle have re-signed star fullback Kalyn Ponga for four seasons in one of the most important deals in the club’s history.
The deal is believed to be worth around $4.4 million, which will make him one of the highest paid players in the NRL.
The 22-year-old Queensland fullback was originally signed until the end of next year with an option for 2022, but has opted to remain with the Knights as they chase their first premiership since 2001.
“It’s no secret I want to win a comp in Newcastle, I want to hold the trophy up here,” Ponga said.
“It’s very exciting and a very proud moment for myself and my family.
“We’re building towards something and I can definitely feel it. It’s something that I want to be a part of and I’m excited to be a part of.”
The contract puts to bed speculation Ponga was eyeing a code switch to rugby union in time for the 2023 World Cup.
Ponga qualifies to play for New Zealand and has previously spoken about his respect for the All Blacks, but on Tuesday he reiterated his love for Newcastle and a desire to bring success to the area.
After Canberra made the NRL decider last year, the Knights now have the longest grand final drought in the game – their last appearance was with the Andrew Johns’ led 2001 premiership team.
Under new coach Adam O’Brien and on the back of Ponga’s long-term deal with the club, it’s hoped the Knights can achieve long-awaited success.
Andre Ponga, Kalyn’s father, helped negotiate the deal with the Knights, but it was never about the money.
“For us as a family it’s never been about the car in the garage or the brand of T-shirt that you’re wearing or the expensive steak at dinner,” Kalyn said.
“It’s always been about where you are, who you’re with and the memories that you can make.
“I’ve been very fortunate that my Mum and Dad have been there for me this whole journey even when times were tough really early on.”