A shoulder injury has ruined Kalyn Ponga's hopes of turning out for the New Zealand Maori this weekend - but the NRL sensation will still handle the water running duties.
A nagging shoulder problem dogged the 19-year-old former North Queensland protégé throughout the latter part of the Cowboys NRL season and medical advice has prompted him to withdraw from the Maori side.
The Newcastle Knights star recruit was set to line up in Saturday's clash against New Zealand Residents in Auckland, but with his new club's pre-season training set to begin in the coming weeks he's opted to protect his body from further damage.
"I was honoured to be picked for the side," Ponga told Fox Sports.
"It would have been an amazing opportunity to connect with my culture and give back but with my shoulder (how it is) and pre-season not far away, I wanted to focus on next year."
Ponga will have plenty of expectations riding on his shoulders next season, when he begins a four-year deal with Newcastle, having made just nine NRL appearances for the Cowboys over the last two seasons.
The chance to represent the Maori would not have seen him committed to the Kiwis, with Ponga eligible to play for both New Zealand and Australia.
Ponga opted not to play junior representative football last year after he was in line to be picked for both the Junior Kiwis and Junior Kangaroos.
Ponga will still feature at the match at Bruce Pullman Park - running the water for the Maori team together with former Kiwis test hooker Issac Luke - but Chairman of New Zealand Maori Rugby League John Devonshire says he is destined to wear the green and gold.
"He's coming into camp with us and he'll be the highest paid water boy running the H2O but unfortunately he won't be playing," Devonshire told Radio Sport.
"(It's especially disappointing) When a player of his calibre rings you and wants to be part of and connect with his Maori side.
"This is despite him pledging his allegiance to Queensland and Australia. He's 100 per cent committed to Queensland and Australia."
Luke was last week overlooked for the Kiwis 24-man World Cup squad before enquiring about switching allegiances to play for Ireland - which he qualifies for through his grandparents.
However, the Warriors veteran's bid came too late, as he needed to have completed the relevant paper work before the Ireland team was announced on Saturday.