$3 mil teen Ponga not feeling pressure

Nov 13, 2017 - 5:33 AM He's just 19 and has signed the most lucrative contract in the history of Newcastle but Kalyn Ponga has brushed off the suggestion he'll be expected to pull the club from the NRL doldrums.

Ponga had his first session with his new Newcastle teammates on Monday after his high profile decision to leave North Queensland.

The highly-rated fullback was signed to the Knights on a four-year deal worth a reported $3 million despite having just nine games worth of NRL experience.

After three straight wooden spoons, the Knights were desperate for a marquee player around which they could build the club.

Ponga's signing was criticised in some quarters as excessive because he was unproven in first grade and was yet to prove he was the answer to the Knights' problems.

Asked if he was feeling pressure ahead of season 2018 as the club's big name recruit, he said: "No, not really. I'm just excited to get started.

"I know what the coaches want, the only pressure I really feel is the pressure I put on myself. If I work hard and get myself fit and I'm comfortable with where I'm at, then I'm happy.

"I don't feel too much pressure."

While some have touted Ponga as a future playmaker, he said he only wanted to play fullback, with fellow recruit Connor Watson and youngster Brock Lamb expected to play No.6 and No.7 respectively.

Ponga was given a taste of first-grade in the Cowboys' 2016 semi-final victory over Brisbane.

He was expected to become a regular first-grader last year however his decision to accept the big money offer from the Knights led to him being largely overlooked by North Queensland coach Paul Green.

In a sign of friction between him and the Cowboys, he was called up for just seven NRL appearances and went on to be named in the national youth competition team of the year.

"It did take me a little while but once I did I was comfortable," he said when asked about his decision to resist offers to remain in Townsville.

"It was easy, I saw an opportunity and I just took it."

Source: AAP

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