Knights captain Kalyn Ponga has asked for some breathing space while he decides his future as both he and coach Adam O’Brien insisted contract negotiations remained on track.
O’Brien and Ponga were forced to respond immediately after Sunday’s 21-16 loss to the Dragons at WIN Stadium to reports that broke during the match about Newcastle having withdrawn their offer to star fullback.
Both were adamant that nothing had changed and negotiations were continuing between the club and Ponga, who suffered severe cramping as he was leaving the post-match press conference and required treatment from the Knights medical staff.
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However, the ongoing speculation is clearly frustrating as it was only two weeks ago that a report about Ponga being set to join the Dolphins was followed by another article suggesting he was poised to re-sign.
“When I had breakfast this morning we were signing [Cameron] Munster. I can’t keep up with you guys,” O’Brien said. "It has never been brought up to me once as the head coach.
"Our CEO [Phil Gardner] isn't even in the country, he's in Hawaii. I think they're still going through their process – both Kalyn's management and the Knights. Things are tracking along there.
“I think he showed tonight why he is worth the wait. I think his performance tonight showed how committed he is to this team. I thought he was by far the best player on the field."
Ponga, who had his best performance of the season, indicated that he may be close to a decision on the two-year option in his Newcastle contract beyond this season and the club’s offer of an extension beyond 2024.
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However, he asked for some patience from the media while he considers his future before an announcement is made.
"I know what I'm feeling, but that is between me and my management," Ponga said.
"I know you guys want to know what I am doing, and I respect you, but I hope you guys respect that I want to make this decision on my terms and announce it on my terms. So that's what I will do."