Fri, 15 Nov 2019

Wallabies coach keen on league superstar Ponga

14 Jun 2019, 16:12 GMT+10

Sydney - Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has contacted young rugby league superstar Kalyn Ponga about switching to union, a report said on Friday, as his future comes under the microscope.

The Newcastle Knights fullback, who played the 15-a-side game as a teenager, has emerged as a top talent and made his State of Origin debut for Queensland last year.

Poaching the 21-year-old would be a coup for rugby union as it faces the prospect of a growing number of star names moving overseas, and with high-profile Wallabies fullback Israel Folau recently sacked.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph said Cheika confirmed to them he had personally called Ponga to gauge his interest, but refused to reveal the outcome.

Rugby Australia told AFP that having someone like Ponga in Super Rugby would always be welcomed.

"Kalyn is obviously an exceptional talent and he has a long-term contract in another code," a spokesman said.

"Rugby Australia is always open to talk with talented athletes who are genuine in their interest in playing rugby."

Ponga is contracted to National Rugby League side the Knights until the end of 2021, and they are keen on keeping him with the lure of a lucrative new deal.

His father Andre Ponga told the official NRL website on Thursday that his son was in no rush to decide his future.

"Kalyn could play AFL (Aussie Rules), he could play rugby," he said.

"In the early days we had that conversation before moving to the Knights, and back then we believed rugby (union) was an easy option for him. Rugby wasn't a challenge.

"But I'm sure all this talk about his future, I'm probably going to get phone conversations from people in rugby sooner rather than later."

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