Kalyn Ponga is tackled by Herman Ese'ese during a Knights training session in Newcastle on Tuesday morning.
Kalyn Ponga is tackled by Herman Ese'ese during a Knights training session in Newcastle on Tuesday morning.

Knights prepared to throw millions at Ponga and Pearce

NEWCASTLE Knights star Kalyn Ponga says he wants to establish himself as a bona fide five-eighth before considering a possible multimillion-dollar extension.

On the eve of the most anticipated Newcastle season in years, the NRL club revealed its plans to throw the bank at Ponga and Mitchell Pearce.

However Ponga, who will this year play in the halves for the first time in his career, is refusing to even think about life after his current deal ends in 2021.

"Seven years is a long time. I don't even know what I'm doing tonight for dinner," Ponga told AAP on Tuesday.

The Knights are reportedly preparing to offer the pair a mammoth $7 million combined deal by the end of the year, tying Ponga down until 2026.

However the 20-year-old Ponga shrugged at the club's latest plans.

"I don't care. I haven't heard anything about it," he said.

"I know that my contract's for three more years and I've got things I want to do this year and next year. I'll just focus on that. I'm not looking too far forward."

Pearce, who is also 12 months into his own long-term deal, is adamant his younger halves partner should be the Knights' main priority.

"I haven't got the phone call yet but I'm sure Kalyn will be getting that money. They've sort of looked after me anyway, so I can't really be greedy," he said.

"I've been around footy long enough to know that I've got to play three years of good footy first, so I might be out the back door.

"I'd love to stay here at the Knights, but I've got a long contract and it hasn't even come up in conversation. But on the other hand, obviously Kalyn, they'll be locking him up straight away."

Ponga showed positive signs in both attack and defence in what was his first hit-out in the front line in last week's trial loss to St George Illawarra.

While confident in his ability with the ball, the former North Queensland player said defence had been his major focus over the summer.

"I've put on a bit of weight, but that's just naturally just due to preseason, my age, growing up, and I'll probably still get bigger," Ponga said.

"But just movements, getting used to the way a half plays, talking to the people around me, all that sort of stuff that you learn through doing video."

The Knights will wrap up preseason preparations with a trial against Cronulla in Maitland on Saturday.

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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