Come play for us Kalyn: Hansen opens door for boom NRL star

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has opened the door for boom NRL young gun Kalyn Ponga to cross codes and lauded the 20-year-old as a "special player".

Ponga this week told TV NZ of his desire to one day represent the All Blacks - describing the famous black jersey as the "pinnacle".

"Obviously that would be a huge goal, if I was to come back to union," Ponga said.

"I’m not too sure what my future is going to hold and whether I’m going to stay in league or change codes, but if I was to go back to union, I would want to strive for that black jumper.

"I think it’s the pinnacle. They are the best sporting organisation in the world, the stats have showed that.

"The way they hold themselves and their values and it’s just the little things that they do that make them that step above everyone else.

"To put that jersey on would be pretty special."Kalyn Ponga has expressed a desire to play for the All Blacks. Photo: Getty ImagesHis comments have raised more than a few eyebrows on either side of the ditch and on Thursday Hansen opened the door for the Newcastle Knights star to one day cross codes.

"You’ve got to be aware of him, he’s a special player," Hansen said.

"I quite like watching league, I’ve got a son that plays it and am therefore interested in it.

"He’s had a super Origin, he’s a Kiwi boy and he’s just come out and said maybe one day he might want to come and play rugby.

"If that’s his choice, when he makes that choice, then of course whoever is around at that time would definitely be interested because he’s a talented athlete."

Ponga's services are so sought after that Fox Sports NRL commentator Matty Johns urged CEO Todd Greenberg to do everything in his power to keep him in league on Wednesday.Steve Hansen opened the door for a possible Ponga code switch. Photo: Getty Images"Any kid who has grown up in New Zealand would have an ambition to play for the All Blacks. There’s nothing wrong with that at all," Johns said on his Triple M breakfast show.

"That should send out a little warning signal… not so much to the Newcastle Knights, but to the powers that be in rugby league.

"An incredibly talented young man who the All Blacks would look at and say we would love to have that kid one day, that he looks at the All Blacks and describes them as the pinnacle.

"I think at the end of this year Mal Meninga is going to pick a (Kangaroos) side, and I think Kalyn would absolutely be a chance to be named in that squad.

"But Kalyn looks and says one day, after I’ve achieved everything in rugby league, then it’s the All Blacks. Good on him, I don’t blame him for that.

"If I was a young kid and had the opportunity to play for the All Blacks why wouldn’t you? They are a world brand in sport."

The All Blacks host the Wallabies at Eden Park on Saturday, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST, 7:35pm local, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten, RUGBY.com.au radio and Macquarie Sports radio.