Newcastle director of football Brian Canavan has only been in the job a few days but is already planning to sit down with young superstar Kalyn Ponga to help map out a career path outside of rugby league in a bid to ensure he never feels the need to leave the Knights in the future. The hottest property in the game, Ponga is contracted to the Knights for a further three years but is certain to be the centre of intense interest from rival clubs down the track looking to poach him. While financial rewards and putting a successful team around him will be important towards the back-end of his contract when it comes to keeping rivals at bay, Canavan is a big believer in helping players develop career interests away from their actual playing commitments at clubs. “The Knights did a lot of great work to get Kalyn here and we are fortunate to have his services as a 19-year-old, now we would like him here for the duration,” Canavan said. “It’s a matter of constantly staying in contact with Kalyn and his manager to make sure we know what he is feeling and thinking. “The big part that I’ve seen over my time in the game is nurturing careers beyond footy and if you can get players engaged in that, they stay. “I’ve been through it at the Roosters with the likes of Anthony MInichiello the most recent one. Craig Fitzgibbon is another, Brad Fittler, he does some ambassadorial work for the Roosters still even though he is at Channel Nine. They are all examples. “You go back to Russell Fairfax. He heads up the Old Boys at the Roosters. They are ones that I am familiar with but I’m sure there are plenty of others throughout the game.” Canavan said research backs up the theory. “At the NRL, we conducted research on career development beyond football and there is a very high correlation between players that were engaged in study or work and long-term tenure at the one club,” he said. “You need to develop career aspirations beyond footy. “That’s what I’ll be looking at with Kalyn. I’ve met him several times but I don’t really know what makes him tick “Footy makes him tick right now but we want to get him engaged in whatever interests he has outside of rugby league and we want to give him the freedom and encouragement obviously to pursue them. “If they get engaged in career development that is organised by or in and around the club, for them to leave the club, it sets their careers back off-field so they are better off staying.” Canavan is convinced the Knights are not disadvantaged by their lack of third party agreements. “What we have at the Knights is a big regional area with great support, a lovely city in Newcastle that’s on the way up, a lovely way of life – that is a third party enticement right there to join the club,” he said.