Ponga senior says Newcastle was son's white knight
RUGBY LEAGUE: Claiming the North Queensland Cowboys have neglected his son, the father of Kalyn Ponga is desperate to see them release him sooner rather than later.
The teenage sensation is contracted to the Cowboys for next season but has signed a four-year deal with Newcastle from 2018.
"Things went pear-shaped when we didn't accept an offer from the Cowboys to sign a two-year contract extension back in April,” Andre Ponga revealed to The Daily Telegraph.
"Kalyn didn't have a manager at the time and, we as a family, weren't going to make a decision on his long-term future until Kalyn had a manager in place.”
Andre said the family had grown concerned by the lack of support from the Cowboys to Kalyn when it came to off-field matters.
Having finished high school in Mackay, Kalyn was studying to be a physical education teacher at university.
"As a family, we have always preached that footy is always the B option and education the A option,” Andre explained.
"The Cowboys knew that was a priority for us when he signed in 2013.
"But since rejecting April's offer, they don't want to know about it and it's left Kalyn disillusioned because they are not offering any encouragement to him.
"Unfortunately, a lot of the off-field stuff that was promised, that was going to help him develop as a person off the field, has not been adhered to at the Cowboys.”
Losing confidence in the NRL as a whole, Kalyn had been tempted by offers from the Queensland Reds and Brisbane Lions, but was "blown away” by the Knights offer.
"The Knights actually gave us faith that there is good in the game. I can't emphasise that more.
"They weren't his first pick. Going down to Newcastle for that weekend, the club wasn't even on his radar.
"He can see the growth possibilities of the club and the opportunities for himself personally on and off the field.”
But, until he joins the Knights, Kalyn faces the awkward situation of remaining in the Cowboys set-up.
"If they don't release him, we feel it will be out of spite,” Andre said.
"He has been resilient and professional and we have supported him strongly. The family is prepared to do the same for him over the next 12 months if he is forced to stay on.”