Dynamic Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga won't be pushed into making an early call on his long term future at the Knights despite severing ties with his former manager.
But Knights officials say they will be doing all they can to ensure he doesn't go on the open market in November.
Knights CEO Phil Gardner said Ponga's management resolution, which saw him officially split from agent Wayde Rushton a few weeks ago, may not necessarily bring forward negotiations for a contract upgrade and extension.
"We won't be pushing that,"he said. "KP [Ponga] and his family know where we stand on it so we have to sit tight and wait for them to come back to us. Just when that will be is a decision for them. But getting something done prior to November is obviously a big priority for us. We'd love to have something sorted by mid-season if possible."
Ponga is contracted until the end of the 2021 season and has an option in his favour for 2022 which means he can officially negotiate with rival clubs at the end of this year.
Gardner is understandably concerned at the threat a powerhouse club like the Brisbane Broncos, who have Darius Boyd coming off contract at the same time as Ponga, would pose financially if it became a free-for-all.
"He'll be one of the most sought-after players in the game, there is no doubt about that so we need to re-sign him and upgrade him," Gardner said.
"If you are looking at the clubs in the NRL if he was off contract right now, there would only be two that wouldn't be chasing him which would be Manly and the Roosters because of who they already have at fullback.
"Every other club wants him. Certainly, the Brisbane Broncos would be a huge challenge for us. They have already back-channeled crazy numbers so for us, we've just got to put our best foot forward.
"We are hoping he will come on board for 2022 and 2023 - that would be a great outcome for us and we are doing our best to get him there. That would mean potentially upgrading him this year and for 2021."
For his part, the Knights fullback is saying little about his future plans, preferring instead to put all his energies into lifting the team's prospects on the field this season.
"I'm not going to be commenting on it," he said.
"My focus is just on this year. Yeah, it gets brought up in the media a lot and I understand that but I don't stress or worry about it.
"For me, it's all about this season and doing my best for my teammates, the coach and my family."
The fact Rushton is no longer Ponga's manager is privately viewed as a positive by club officials with his father Andre set to take over his son's off-field affairs.
But Gardner still believes a key component in any discussion over the young fullback's future will centre on the success of the club.
"I think KP is happy here, he and his family is happy living here in Newcastle but he is someone who wants success, he wants to be successful," he said.
"He wants to win a premiership and that's obviously why we want him here because he gives us a better chance of achieving that.
"We need to be in a situation where he can see us winning a competition. When he can see that, I believe we can get him extended. That is what it's all about.
"It's not all about the money. It's like with Pearcey [Mitchell Pearce]. It's not all about the money with him either. He just wants to win another comp."
Asked if the possible lack of third party deals could hamper the Knights' plans, Gardner said: "Legitimate third party deals are an important part of the game, particularly for top-end players and they are certainly out there for players like KP.
"So, whoever is allowed to line them up for him, I'm sure they will be."
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