Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga will be allowed to pursue a career with the All Blacks in the 2023 World Cup after an exit clause in his NRL contract.
The 22-year-old has signed a long-term deal until 2024 with the Knights in June but has an option to leave the club in 2022.
Ponga was born in Australia and made his rugby league debut with North Qld Cowboys in 2016 before switching to the Knights in 2018. He had also represented Queensland, Maori All Stars and Queensland 9s.
According to reports, Super Rugby clubs had expressed their interest in signing Ponga and Australia coach Michael Cheika had approached him last year.
“It’s no secret I want to win a comp in Newcastle, I want to hold the trophy up here,” said Ponga.
“We’re building towards something and I can definitely feel it. It’s something that I want to be a part of and I’m excited to be a part of.
“There was a lot of talk in the media about rugby union but I’ve always said I’m focused on the Knights and have been since I walked in the door.”