NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 24: Kalyn Ponga of the Newcastle Knights kicks the ball during the round 11 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Sydney Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium on May 24, 2019 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

The Newcastle Knights are desperate to keep Queensland Origin star Kalyn Ponga at the club, and are willing to pull out all the stops to do so.

The 23-year-old fullback Ponga is off contract at the end of next season, meaning he can start to explore the idea of free agency from November 1 this year, just a couple of months away.

The star has options in his favour on his contract for 2023 and 2024. The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the Port-Hedland born youngster is all but ready to agree to those options, meaning he would remain in the Hunter for at least the next three years.

It's understood the Knights have major plans for their star, which includes a long-term contract extension, eventually being made club captain (currently a role held by Mitchell Pearce), and shifting to the halves.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 24: Mitchell Pearce of the Knights looks on after another Tigers try during the round 23 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Newcastle Knights at Campbelltown Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

The captaincy situation is expected to be a race between three following Pearce's career, with Daniel Saifiti and Jayden Brailey the other two options. While it hasn't been stated publically, Ponga is believed to have the inside running.

While the fullback has been trialled before in the halves, it came some years ago under Nathan Brown, and it's expected a move in 2023 could be on the cards.

For the Knights, it would have a double benefit, with talented local youngster Tex Hoy currently struggling for game time.

Hoy has impressed during his limited NRL opportunities, but can't get consistent game time with Ponga in front of him. While it's understood Knights' officials will use Jake Clifford and Mitchell Pearce in the halves next year, the temptation to shift Ponga a season earlier than 2023 and bring Hoy into their first-choice 13 must be very real.

Knights youngster Tex Hoy (Image:

In saying that, Ponga is one of the game's best fullbacks. An outstanding Origin 3 helped the Queensland Maroons to avoid a series white wash, while his club form has been somewhat astronomical.

The Knights currently sit in tenth place on the NRL table, equal on points with the eighth-placed Cronulla Sharks. Coming off an enormous loss to the Storm, Newcastle face the Roosters this week before things get slightly more straightforward on the run home, Cronulla being the only other top eight team they'll play in the final six weeks.