Concerns are growing for Kalyn Ponga’s long-term future in the NRL, following a fourth concussion in the past 10 months on Sunday afternoon.
Newcastle’s million-dollar superstar was taken from the field after just two minutes against the Tigers, after an attempted tackle on Asu Kepaoa went awfully wrong.
Ponga failed his HIA and spent the remainder of the game in the sheds, while Knights hooker Jayden Brailey was also forced off with a head knock in the first-half.
Despite all the adversity, which also included a sin-bin and a late Jacob Saifiti send-off, Newcastle managed to come away with a brave 14-12 victory at Leichhardt Oval.
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Speaking to the media after the game, Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien revealed that the five-eighth would miss at least a week, but wasn’t quick to delve into any long-term ramifications of the latest concussion.
“I looked at his tackle tech and tackle selection and he got off the line quite hard on the short side and I think it caught him by surprise,” he said.
“I’ve seen him make that tackle a thousand times over the summer, so I’m not too concerned around that.
“It’s too early to say – we will follow the protocols. He’s had the summer off, he had eight games off last year, he’s had some extended breaks.
“We’ll follow the guidelines – he obviously won’t play, we’ve got a five-day turnaround to patch that group up and he’s not going to be a part of that and neither will Brails.
“We will worry about all that stuff later.”
Kalyn Ponga comes off early with a HIA.
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Newcastle were hit with mass injuries across the park, with the likes of Tyson Frizell and Jack Johns also struggling to complete the 80 minutes and are now unlikely to face the Dolphins in Round 3.
O’Brien praised his side’s resilience after losing two of their key players early in the afternoon.
“What was going through my head – we’d lost the six and the nine, that was starting to concern me,” he said.
“It really hurts your rotation, we had to get some big minutes out of the Saifiti’s and those boys.
“I’m really proud of them – we had to contend with a whole heap. There was some stuff in our DNA last week that was sort of preparing us to do something like that – not as much as what we had to contend with tonight though.
“We just spoke about it then in the sheds – last year it seemed to have got all a bit too hard for us at times.
“I think we’ve proven in the last couple of weeks, and we have the whole summer, that things aren’t always going to go to plan for us but it doesn’t mean we turn it up.
“That’s a really good example that we can come out the other side of it.”
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