Knights Kalyn Ponga contract, extension, news, Dolphins Wayne Bennett

Knights star Kalyn Ponga has put to rest speculation surrounding his future, signing a five-year deal to remain in Newcastle.

The 24-year-old’s new deal will kick in next season and will see the fullback remain with the club until 2027.

Ponga’s future had been at the centre of much debate, with his contract causing the Knights headaches due to years of player options in his favour. Those options virtually made the superstar a free agent.

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It was revealed earlier this month Ponga met with Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett as the NRL’s incoming 17th franchise builds its roster. Ponga’s decision is another blow to the Dolphins who are yet to lure a franchise cornerstone.

“I would like to thank everyone who has helped throughout this process,” Ponga said.

“I’m grateful for the huge amount of time and hard work it has taken to get this new five-year deal completed, especially my family and key people from the club.

“My teammates have been awesome, they have shown me every respect and patience, without any pressure throughout the negotiations.

“We are a very connected group and I am confident there are great things ahead for us.

“It has taken a long time to get to this position, I have always said big decisions like these should not be rushed and we have taken the necessary time required.

“There has been a lot of reporting and opinions throughout the last few weeks, which I understand completely, and respect is a part of the game.

“I would like to thank all of those who have given me the respect of allowing me the space and time I needed to come to this decision – I am excited to have it done and now I can get on with contributing to the club and city that I love.”

Since joining the Knights in 2018 from the Cowboys, Ponga has gone on to feature for the club on 78 occasions.

He’s also represented the Queensland Maroons four times since making his Origin debut in 2018.

Ponga’s move to the Knights will likely see Cameron Munster’s future continue to dominate NRL discussions.

Negotiations to keep the playmaker beyond 2023 are looking difficult for the Storm, with reports the Dolphins have put forward a deal worth more than $1 million a year to lure him out of Victoria.

Sydney Morning Herald reporter Michael Chammas confirmed on Nine’s 100% Footy last week that Munster had been offered a two-year contract extension worth $750,000-$800,000 per season to remain in Melbourne.

The 27-year-old Munster is off contract at the end of 2023, and the NRL’s incoming 17th franchise, the Dolphins, have been particularly interested in Storm players. The Bromwich brothers, Jesse and Kenneath, as well as State of Origin back-rower Felise Kaufusi, have all signed deals with the club from next season.

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