Newcastle Knights, Dolphins, Kalyn Ponga, Wayne Bennett, contract, meeting


Dolphins manager Wayne Bennett has been touted as the architect of his meeting with Kalyn Ponga in Sydney over the Knights co-captain’s contract, but a report has emerged claiming the Newcastle superstar actually put him on the line. square.

Ponga is under contract with the Knights until the end of 2024, but the last two years are options in his favor, meaning he is effectively a free agent.

The Dolphins are yet to land a top-tier playmaker and are interested in poaching Ponga for their inaugural 2023 NRL season and beyond.

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But rugby league reporter Nine Ben Dobbin says it was Ponga, not Bennett, who set up the face-to-face meeting in Sydney over his future, before adding it left a Knights source ” dirty”.

“(Ponga) had a first meeting with the Knights where they presented their offer, the Dolphins obviously presented their offer, and he went and thought about it. Totally within his rights. Everyone agreed , everybody knew about it,” Dobbin said on Triple M’s Rush hour with Leisel, Liam and Dobbo.

“Then last week Kalyn Ponga contacted the Dolphins and said, ‘I’d like to have another chat.’

“Now let’s get this straight. The discussion didn’t happen in Newcastle, in your own backyard, in your town, Wayne didn’t fly to Newcastle.

“They were in Sydney…and it was on the back of Kalyn Ponga and her dad, who runs it, wanting to have a reunion to see exactly what the Dolphins really, really sincerely felt their side was going to be.”

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Dobbin said he was stunned by a meeting he had with a Knights staffer regarding the Ponga fiasco.

“I spoke to someone at the club… (they) were dirty on it. Dirty,” Dobbin said.

“And then when I told them it was in Sydney, they said, ‘Well, at least it wasn’t in his own backyard’.

“What if he did!”

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In February, Ponga insisted he was committed to staying with the Knights and winning an NRL premiership with the club.

“I’m locked in. I’m dedicated to earning a comp here,” Ponga told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“That’s all I want to do, that’s really all I can think about. I don’t know why, there’s always speculation that I’m going somewhere else.

“But I really enjoy this group of men, to be here with the Knights, so I’m excited.”

These comments suggest that Ponga is committed to completing his contract with Newcastle – and it’s a belief shared by Dobbin.

“I don’t believe Kalyn Ponga will join the Dolphins,” Dobbin said.

“I think he is doing his due diligence and will stay at Newcastle.”

Ponga will next feature for Newcastle in a clash with Manly in the Hunter on Thursday night.

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