THE real problem for the Newcastle Knights is unlikely to be money. Their dilemma will be if and when Kalyn Ponga runs out at Campbelltown or Brookvale, in front of a crowd of less than 10,000 fans, and finds it all a tad ho-hum.
That's when it might occur to rugby league's hottest prospect that there is a whole wide world of opportunity out there, just waiting for him to conquer it.
At this point in his career, Ponga is a rapidly growing fish in a very small pond.
Rugby league, in global terms, is a boutique sport.
It's the dominant code down the east coast of Australia, and it has a presence, to varying degrees, in New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, the north of England and France, as well as a fledgling franchise in Canada.
Almost a quarter of a century since John Ribot announced Super League's "vision" of becoming a mainstream international entity, it's hard to see how the game has progressed.
Players are paid more, and the standards of professionalism and athleticism have increased exponentially, but I'd be surprised if the support base has changed in all that time, even after the introduction of a highly successful team in a city the size of Melbourne.
The vast majority of players don't give the big picture a second thought.
Most of them are quite content earning a lucrative living from the game they first played as juniors, and their sole motivation is to maximise their careers.
In many cases, it's all they have ever dreamed of doing, and all they know.
But there are certain players in the modern era who have been willing to think outside the square and chase their dreams.
It started with the likes of Wendell Sailor and Mat Rogers switching to the Wallabies almost 20 years ago. Soon Sonny-Bill Williams followed them across the great divide.
More recently Israel Folau and Karmichael Hunt have become multi-code mercenaries by taking their talents to AFL and rugby. Then Jarryd Hayne redefined what was considered achievable by playing a season of NFL with San Francisco 49ers, blazing a trail that Valentine Holmes hopes to follow.
Players capable of making such transitions are few and far between. They need to possess both the athletic gifts and the inclination.
Ponga would appear a logical candidate on both fronts.
In terms of raw talent, he appears the complete package.
He has the pace and unique footwork to threaten any defensive line, and, as he showed in last week's State of Origin series opener, the ball-playing nous to create opportunities for teammates when opponents are marking him closely.
His kicking game, both for goal and in general play, continues to improve, he is confident under the high ball and defensively he has shown time and again a willingness to put his body on the line.
It's not hard to imagine that within the next year or two, barring injury, he will have established himself as the best rugby league player on the planet.
The question then will be if he wants to have a similar impact in another code.
For Ponga, leaving rugby league might not necessarily be a heart-wrenching decision. As a kid he also shone at rugby union, Australian rules and touch football, and even showed outstanding potential as a golfer. Rugby league was not his first love.
Having spent his formative years in New Zealand, he revealed last year that he regards the All Blacks jersey as "the pinnacle", adding: "They are the best sporting organisation in the world."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen indicated the feeling was mutual, when he said: "You've got to be aware of him, he's a special player."
With two more years to run on his Knights contract (plus an option in his favour for 2022), if Ponga was to jump ship he could conceivably be wearing the black jersey at the 2023 World Cup.
Instead of playing at suburban Sydney grounds, he might find himself running out in front of huge crowds at iconic venues such as Twickenham, Millennium Stadium and Eden Park.
All the while knowing that, if and when he ever wanted to return to rugby league, clubs would be lining up to welcome him back.
The alternative scenario is that the 21-year-old opts to stay in rugby league and strives to forge one of the all-time great careers.
In that case, the Knights surely have the inside running to retain him, providing their team can continue to develop and eventually challenge for titles.
The Ponga family, by all accounts, enjoys the Novocastrian lifestyle, and most clubs can only envy the Knights' home-game attendances.
Ponga would presumably become the highest-paid player in the NRL, but in a salary-cap governed environment, the Knights have as much capacity as their 15 rivals to fund his salary, and perhaps even more so, given the marketing opportunities that would be available as a long-term resident of a one-team town.
Newcastle officials will no doubt be keen to extend Ponga's tenure at the earliest opportunity, but his best bet might well be to enter the final year of his contract and leave all options open.
The bottom line is that Knights fans should enjoy him while they can - hopefully for many years to come.