North Queensland fullback and five-eighth Kalyn Ponga has a veritable smorgasbord of options regarding his options beyond the NRL and was on the receiving end from some sage advice from Kangaroos’ Coach Mal Meninga as to which route to follow.
Ponga could choose to play for Australia or New Zealand, but apparently not both, at least not simultaneously, so in Meninga’s view, Ponga must weigh his decision carefully.
Nineteen-year-old rugby players are not known for always making the best decisions. It comes from the combination of being a teenager and a rugby player as well.
Meninga actually said, presumably with a straight face, “He’s got to make that decision. At the end of the day if he wants to play for Queensland and Australia it should be motivated by what comes from in here (heart), not what comes from the dollar packet or whatever the case might be.”
New Zealand would like to see Meninga not try to influence Ponga, and Meninga disavows having tried to sway Ponga to the Aussie side in any way.
Cowboys’ Coach Kevin Walter supported Meninga’s sentiments, saying that Ponga should trust his instincts and go where his heart yearns, but truthfully, those words ring hollow in a sport where Ponga could easily be ejected for a big star’s salary requirements, or in years to come, be supplanted by a younger player willing to work for less. Professional rugby is a business, and the role of emotion should be a minor one.