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O'Brien: Ponga re-signing won't mean Hoy gets heave-ho

Adam O'Brien says Newcastle will do everything possible to keep young gun fullback Tex Hoy beyond next season despite Kalyn Ponga's three-year contract extension.

The announcement of Ponga's new deal at the Knights has been widely received within the rugby league community after the possibility of the 22-year-old switching to rugby union began to surface in February.

While Ponga's retention is a coup for O'Brien's tenure and the Hunter region, attention quickly turned to where Hoy fits into future planning with the promising local product also viewed as a future star.

Hoy, 20, is off contract at the end of 2021 but could begin to negotiate with rival clubs from as early as November 1.

His minutes off the bench as the side's utility in recent weeks have decreased to just 10 and 22 against the Raiders and Storm respectively after a gruelling 90-minute effort in his round-three NRL debut at fullback while Ponga was suspended.

Knights v Broncos - Round 6

The Knights had a similar dilemma in 2018 with Nick Meaney, who moved to Canterbury to chase a better opportunity when Ponga first arrived in Newcastle from the Cowboys.

However, in a show of faith on Wednesday, the Knights coach said Hoy's pathway was considered a priority for the club.

"We're really fortunate with Tex that he's so versatile and can fit in anywhere," O'Brien said.

The driving reason behind Ponga's extension with the Knights

"He's got a big enough body to spend some time at centre and I can certainly see six and one in the attacking form as not being miles apart.

"We want them to have free rein there. I don't lock Kalyn into one side and our six is happy to do that as well.

"I think certainly between centre, six, he can spend some time at 13 ... I just know he's got a future at the club and we'll find a way to get him into the game somewhere.

"He's got a good future provided he keeps working hard."

Meanwhile, O'Brien said the side's second-half performance last week should prompt them to start faster against the Broncos on Thursday night.

The Knights rallied from an 18-0 deficit in the first half to get within reach against Melbourne until a late penalty goal and converted try killed off any chance of an unlikely victory.

"The positive out of last week was we showed some resilience and ticker in the second half," O'Brien said.

Fullbacks in the frontline dominant in Round 5

"It's always important we're approaching every game looking close to our best performance.

"I know you're not going to get it every week. We know we started slow and have spoken about it at length this week so it's important we bounce back and improve in the areas.

"Regardless of the result we want to keep improving every day."

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