Kalyn Ponga is almost certain to join the $1 million club and become the highest paid player in Newcastle's history if he eventually agrees to a new contract with the Knights - but it hasn't happened yet.
And any potential new deal won't come with an "All Blacks clause" allowing him the flexibility to switch codes if he chooses to while under contract.
With Knights coach Adam O'Brien meeting with Dragons backrow target Tyson Frizell for the first time ahead of a lucrative three year contract offer that has just been tabled, speculation surrounding Ponga's future has surprised and angered Knights officials.
It reached fever pitch on Tuesday night following a media report suggesting the Knights had offered him a new upgraded four year contract worth $4.5 million.
The reported deal included a get-out clause in 2023 to allow Ponga to potentially play for the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup if he decided to switch codes.
But Knights CEO Phil Gardner, who was quoted in the Sydney media story, was straight on the front foot yesterday to strenuously deny a new contract is even on the table for the star fullback.
"There is no contract [offer], there are no clauses in the contract and there are no numbers," Gardner said. "What you are seeing and reading is speculation. "I've been on the record a number of times now saying we'd like Kalyn to stay until he is 45. If we could, we'd like as long a contract as possible. We have talked to the family about an extension of his contract.
"Kalyn is contracted to us for 2020 and 21. He is a free agent on the November 1 and we'd obviously like Kalyn to be here as long as possible but what he does long term is a call for Kalyn and the family. We'll put our best foot forward in relationship to that and when the Ponga family are ready, I'm sure we can get to a contract."
Gardner said the negotiation process with Ponga and his family is on-going.
"Where we sit with Kalyn, nothing much has changed for us," he said. "He's a key and important part of our team. He's had a fantastic off-season, he had a great game with the New Zealand Maoris and we'd like him here as long as we possibly can. But there is still a lot of water to go under the bridge."
Gardner claims the Knights remain in the box seat to extend Ponga's stay at the club beyond 2021 and believes the Brisbane Broncos and not the All Blacks will be the biggest threat to that happening.
"The only people who can upgrade Kalyn for this year and next year are us. That gives us the box seat for an extension," he said.
Knights squad for Roosters trial on Saturday:
Kalyn Ponga, Edrick Lee, Enari Tuala, Gehamat Shibasaki, Hymel Hunt, Kurt Mann, Mitchell Pearce, David Klemmer, Jayden Brailey, Daniel Saifiti, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Aidan Guerra, Mitch Barnett, Connor Watson, Herman Ese'ese, Jacob Saifiti, Tim Glasby, Tex Hoy, Pasami Saulo, Mason Lino, Starford To'a.
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