by Samuel O'Brien
Former Mackay schoolboy star Kalyn Ponga has been forced to withdraw from a representative fixture in New Zealand due to injury.
Ponga was set to be a key drawcard for Saturday's New Zealand Maori vs Residents match in Auckland however has pulled out of the fixture due to a shoulder injury.
The injury was the same one that troubled the teen through the back half of the season and with pre-season starting at his new club in a matter of weeks, he chose not to risk further damage.
New Zealand Maori Chairman John Devonshire who last week lauded the inclusion of Ponga in the team said he was disappointed by the withdrawal.
He however praised the young star for showing commitment to the team and remaining with them throughout their preparation saying its the best of a bad situation.
"When I was informed of his withdrawal I felt shattered for Kalyn because he was so looking forward to representing his Maori ancestry,” Devonshire said.
Ponga has been replaced in the line-up by Ipswich Jets play maker Mikaere Beattie.
The former Cowboy will now turn his focus to rehabilitation before beginning his first pre-season in Newcastle.
The talented teen heads to the Knights on a multi-million deal after playing nine first grade games for North Queensland.