Ponga adds fuel to rugby speculation
KALYN Ponga is refusing to guarantee himself to rugby league beyond one more year.
Ponga, who lived in New Zealand for part of his childhood, admitted in August that rugby union was a future career option for him if and he were to change codes he would want to represent the All Blacks.
Queensland's sudden possible loss of Valentine Holmes as a likely 20-game Origin player makes 20-year-old Ponga an even bigger part of the Maroons' backline future.
The Newcastle livewire, who had a rousing Origin debut off the bench in game two before injury ruled him out of the last match of the series, has three more years on his NRL club contract.
Asked on Tuesday how many years he was intending to play rugby league, Ponga said: "I'm not focusing any further than that one, next year.
"I don't want to look past it.
"The question I was asked that day (in August) was that if I was to play rugby would I want to play for the All Blacks and I just answered the question, yes.
"If you watch the whole interview, it was about my family (with New Zealand heritage). It was taken out of context a little bit.''
Ponga told The Courier-Mail he backed Holmes's decision to try to forge a career in the NFL.
He said could not see how it could be viewed as a bad thing for rugby league that it could not hold Holmes.
"I don't think it's bad for rugby league. I just want Valentine to do this thing,'' Ponga said.
"Val's a good mate of mine and if someone wants to pursue a dream I can't see why he shouldn't do it or why someone would want to stop him.''
Ponga said a personal ambition for 2019 was to play all three games for Queensland.
Australian coach Mal Meninga said last weekend it would not help Ponga's representative claims that Newcastle intend to play him five-eighth, rather than the fullback position at which he excelled last year.
"I was gutted when I got hurt after the first game for Queensland - I want to be back in that arena,'' Ponga said.
"I'll play any position, literally. It's a goal but not something I'll focus on too heavily. I'll focus on doing well at the Knights.
"I think we'll play the idea of me at No.6 and Connor (Watson) at the back and see how the pre-season goes. It is whatever is best for the team.''
A teenage Ponga had Super Rugby and AFL options when he chose league with the Cowboys prior to his transfer to Newcastle for 2018.
Asked what he liked about league three years later, Ponga said: "I like the positive environment at the Knights. The boys are good.
"The city is great and the backing we get, I love it. I'm looking forward to next season.''