live Infotainment Factory: Gus' Ponga plea to NRL as Wallabies swoop

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Thursday, 13 June 2019

Gus' Ponga plea to NRL as Wallabies swoop


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Phil Gould has warned the NRL and the Newcastle Knights to think outside of the square to come up with a way to keep young superstar Kalyn Ponga or risk losing him forever.

Ponga is contracted to the Knights until 2021 but even at 21 his talent and performances are already outstripping his $600,000-a-season deal and his management is reportedly seeking an upgrade.

Meanwhile, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has brazenly picked up the phone in an effort to get the young gun thinking about a code switch, which has already been on his radar after he admitted to dreaming of one day representing the All Blacks.

Kalyn Ponga's electrifying Origin highlights

Cheika was contacted by The Daily Telegraph yesterday and admitted he had phoned Ponga but would not reveal details of the conversation.

Ponga has already caused one feeding frenzy when he was on the open market two years ago, with the Knights securing his services on what was then considered a handsome deal despite competition from the AFL and rugby union.

Although Ponga would need to break his contract or convince the Knights to release him in order to leave before the end of the 2021 season, Gould said both the club and the NRL needed to act now or rue a massive lost opportunity.

"The NRL have got to assist the Knights in keeping Kalyn Ponga. He's a marquee player in our game," Gould said on Wide World of Sports podcast Six Tackles with Gus.

"The NRL have got to find endorsements and opportunities for him and make him a part of their marketing; you know, he's young, he's fresh, he's new, he's talented, he's popular with the kids. The NRL should be marketing this fella and he should be the face of the NRL and we could do that with a number of young players.

"We should never risk losing Ponga and Tedesco and these kinds of players from our game, they've got to help the Newcastle Knights. That's what I would do if I was running the game, I wouldn't have rugby league losing Kalyn Ponga."

Even at his tender age Ponga has been one of the best players in the game for 18 months now and would almost certainly command a figure of $1 million-a-season plus from multiple NRL clubs if he was on the open market today.

Gould speculated Ponga could get as much as $2.5 million-a-year to play rugby in Europe and said the endorsements he could attract as an All Black would provide him with an astronomical financial ceiling.

It raises an uncomfortable question for the Knights; should they give him a pay rise or should they reap the benefits of a superstar playing for them at a discounted rate?

According to Gould it's a no-brainer; they should use the advantage they have as the only club that can currently make formal offers to Ponga and agree to a pay increase, with a strict caveat.

"My belief is that I never have a player underpaid. If I think he's on the wrong money I try to fix it the best way that we can," Gould said.

" ... It's a give and take. 'Kalyn, we're prepared to pay you more money now but we want another two or three years on the contract'.

"So you put it back on him and say, 'We're prepared to pay you more money, we're prepared to move a player to open up that space in the salary cap. You're playing fullback, it's an important position, you're obviously now an Origin and international class player, alright, we can see that you should be on more money but if we put you on more money we'd like to extend your contract for another three years. So let's do a five-year-deal for the house, wife, car and kids and all the trimmings that go with it', and that's the offer, that's how you go from there."

State of Origin: Kalyn Ponga v James Tedesco - Game I

Gould admitted it was "a gamble" to pay any player, even one as gifted as Ponga huge money due to the impact it has on a limited salary cap that needs to be spent on 30 players, but he said in cases like Ponga's it was a risk worth taking.

"It's a bit of a gamble but with players of this quality, provided they stay healthy and provided they stay committed to what they do ... For me that's the conversation they have with Kalyn," Gould said.

"'Kalyn, I can put you on $900,000-a-year or $1 million-a-year right now, but I want to do that for five years'."

Phil Gould has warned the NRL and the Newcastle Knights to think outside of the square to come up with a way to keep young superstar Kalyn Ponga or risk losing him forever.

Ponga is contracted to the Knights until 2021 but even at 21 his talent and performances are already outstripping his $600,000-a-season deal and his management is reportedly seeking an upgrade.

Meanwhile, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has brazenly picked up the phone in an effort to get the young gun thinking about a code switch, which has already been on his radar after he admitted to dreaming of one day representing the All Blacks.

Kalyn Ponga's electrifying Origin highlights

Cheika was contacted by The Daily Telegraph yesterday and admitted he had phoned Ponga but would not reveal details of the conversation.

Ponga has already caused one feeding frenzy when he was on the open market two years ago, with the Knights securing his services on what was then considered a handsome deal despite competition from the AFL and rugby union.

Although Ponga would need to break his contract or convince the Knights to release him in order to leave before the end of the 2021 season, Gould said both the club and the NRL needed to act now or rue a massive lost opportunity.

"The NRL have got to assist the Knights in keeping Kalyn Ponga. He's a marquee player in our game," Gould said on Wide World of Sports podcast Six Tackles with Gus.

"The NRL have got to find endorsements and opportunities for him and make him a part of their marketing; you know, he's young, he's fresh, he's new, he's talented, he's popular with the kids. The NRL should be marketing this fella and he should be the face of the NRL and we could do that with a number of young players.

"We should never risk losing Ponga and Tedesco and these kinds of players from our game, they've got to help the Newcastle Knights. That's what I would do if I was running the game, I wouldn't have rugby league losing Kalyn Ponga."

Even at his tender age Ponga has been one of the best players in the game for 18 months now and would almost certainly command a figure of $1 million-a-season plus from multiple NRL clubs if he was on the open market today.

Gould speculated Ponga could get as much as $2.5 million-a-year to play rugby in Europe and said the endorsements he could attract as an All Black would provide him with an astronomical financial ceiling.

It raises an uncomfortable question for the Knights; should they give him a pay rise or should they reap the benefits of a superstar playing for them at a discounted rate?

According to Gould it's a no-brainer; they should use the advantage they have as the only club that can currently make formal offers to Ponga and agree to a pay increase, with a strict caveat.

"My belief is that I never have a player underpaid. If I think he's on the wrong money I try to fix it the best way that we can," Gould said.

" ... It's a give and take. 'Kalyn, we're prepared to pay you more money now but we want another two or three years on the contract'.

"So you put it back on him and say, 'We're prepared to pay you more money, we're prepared to move a player to open up that space in the salary cap. You're playing fullback, it's an important position, you're obviously now an Origin and international class player, alright, we can see that you should be on more money but if we put you on more money we'd like to extend your contract for another three years. So let's do a five-year-deal for the house, wife, car and kids and all the trimmings that go with it', and that's the offer, that's how you go from there."

State of Origin: Kalyn Ponga v James Tedesco - Game I

Gould admitted it was "a gamble" to pay any player, even one as gifted as Ponga huge money due to the impact it has on a limited salary cap that needs to be spent on 30 players, but he said in cases like Ponga's it was a risk worth taking.

"It's a bit of a gamble but with players of this quality, provided they stay healthy and provided they stay committed to what they do ... For me that's the conversation they have with Kalyn," Gould said.

"'Kalyn, I can put you on $900,000-a-year or $1 million-a-year right now, but I want to do that for five years'."

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