Prodigy or not, the North Queensland Cowboys have declined to allow Kaylyn Ponga an early release to the Newcastle Knights.

The Knights obviously need the help Ponga could supply, along with a healthy helping of more, but they will have to wait until 2018 for Ponga to begin year one of his four-year deal, which was just signed Monday.

According to Cowboys football manager Peter Parr, the team has no intention of being deprived of Ponga’s services in 2017, when they hope to make another run at the premiership that ended a bit prematurely in 2016.

The Knights apparently have money, if not talent, as the Ponga deal is reportedly going to make Ponga the richest teenager in the history of the NRL. The four-year contract is reportedly going to pay him $700,000 per season.

It appears that the speculation that Ponga would be released early was simply that, speculation generated by the Knights when they made the announcement of Ponga’s signing.

Ponga had a world of opportunities open to him prior to signing with the Cowboys. Six NRL clubs had pursued him and three other codes beyond rugby also thought his potential worthy of pursuit.

He made his debut in the Cowboys’ finals win over Brisbane and was on the ground again the following week when the Melbourne Storm eliminated the Cowboys.