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Knights, NRL issue hands-off warning to Rugby Australia for trying to poach Kalyn Ponga

Newcastle and the NRL have issued a hands-off warning to the Australian Rugby Union after Wallabies coach Michael Cheika phoned Kalyn Ponga in an attempt to poach the young superstar.

A frustrated Knights today admonished Cheika after it emerged he had contacted the Knights and Queensland fullback to enquire about his desire to switch codes at some point in his career.

Knights CEO Phil Gardner described Cheika's conduct as inappropriate given the 21-year-old is under contract until the end of 2021.

"It's not surprising that rugby union have identified Kalyn as a talent they wish to get their hands on," Gardner said.

"What does come as a surprise is that an official from their code would personally phone our talent despite the fact he has several seasons left to run on his contract.

"It is inappropriate for any contact to be made from rugby union - or anyone else for that matter - and it is extremely disappointing.

"The reality is Kalyn is under contract for another two-and-a-half years with the option for a third year."

It has been speculated that Ponga's management are agitating to upgrade his contract.

When Ponga was signed from North Queensland on a deal worth a reported $600,000, it was considered a gamble by the Knights.

However he has since catapulted into superstar status and the Knights are now viewed as having paid unders.

"Kalyn is a superb talent and quality person," Gardner said.

"He is a player we see being part of the Knights fabric for years to come. I can assure not only Knights supporters, but fans of the game, we will be doing everything in our power to sign Kalyn long-term when the time is right."

Ponga played rugby union at the prestigious Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane during his teens and has previously spoken of his admiration of the New Zealand All Blacks.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said it was disappointing to see a rival code contact one of its stars.

"Kalyn is a wonderful talent and a fine ambassador for rugby league and the Knights, and it is not surprising that there would be interest in him at the appropriate time," Greenberg said.

"The nature of this interest is certainly unorthodox.

"Kalyn has a significant period remaining on his contract and it would be disappointing to see any contact made to any player under these circumstances."

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    The Queensland Origin star says he would strive to be an All Black if he ever returned to rugby, the code he played so successfully as a schoolboy. Source: 1 NEWS