Kalyn Ponga is hurting after the death of a close cousin. Picture: Brendon Thorne/AAP
Kalyn Ponga is hurting after the death of a close cousin. Picture: Brendon Thorne/AAP

‘Heartbroken’ Ponga set to play after death of family member

A HEARTBROKEN Kalyn Ponga has returned to New Zealand after the sudden death of his cousin.

Fairfax is reporting Ponga has flown to New Zealand with his family to attend the funeral of his father Andre's niece, who was in Newcastle last month to celebrate Ponga's 21st birthday.

The pair were reportedly very close.

The funeral is believed to on Thursday, but Ponga is "desperate" to play for the Knights against the Sea Eagles on Saturday.

Coach Nathan Brown told Fairfax the club would be supporting their young star through such a difficult time.

''We are all devastated for Kalyn and his family,'' Brown told Fairfax.

''It's obviously a time when family comes first and there are a lot more important things than a game of footy. But I spoke to Andre this morning and he said Kalyn is desperate to play.

''At this stage, he'll be flying home on Friday morning and we have put our captain's run back until the afternoon so he can be there to prepare.''

Only last week Ponga made the switch to fullback, moving out of the halves where he had trained all preseason.

Should he not return to play, the Knights could call on Connor Watson, who is set to return from a knee injury this weekend.

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