Newcastle NRL star Kalyn Ponga says contract negotiations with the Knights are the furthest thing from his mind, let alone whether he wants to play for the All Blacks in the future.
Speculation was rife a fortnight ago with reports surfacing the club had tabled a rich contract extension to the 21-year-old which included a get-out clause to defect to rugby union ahead of the 2023 World Cup.
Already contracted to the Knights until the end of 2021, clubs are free to approach the Queensland star in November and Newcastle have confirmed they want him locked in long term.
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However, on Monday, Ponga rejected the reports and said he was focused on round one, not what he might be doing in four years.
“It’s speculation – I don’t even know. I don’t know anything about the contracts,” he said.
“If I’m going into this weekend’s game thinking: ‘what am I doing in four years?’ … I’m not in the right headspace.
“For me, I’m just worried about today, probably what I’m going to have for dinner tonight and then I’ll worry about tomorrow.”
While Ponga appears carefree, the Knights are desperate to ward off rival NRL clubs who will be waiting to negotiate with one of the biggest stars in the game if he is not upgraded before November.
Ponga understands why fans and media are interested in his next deal, but he’s more worried about being a consistent player for the Knights and says he is happy at the club.
“I don’t know too much; I know there’s been a lot of crazy speculation,” he said.
“I appreciate everyone wanting to know what I’m doing. But it’s the same thing as it’s always been.
“The message I want to always show to my fans and the club is that I just want to focus on now.
“That’s the person that I always have been and that’s who I always will be, so I’m just excited for this weekend.
” I don’t think I was too consistent last year. I think I can be better in that area – performing week in an d week out.
“The Knights are foremost on my mind. I want to win – I want to win a comp.”
The Knights open their season on Saturday against the Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium, which will also mark Ponga’s 50th NRL game.
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