Ponga’s leadership questioned as Newcastle raise “concerns” over star’s commitment

The Newcastle Knights have raised “genuine questions” over Kalyn Ponga’s commitment to the club following his bathroom cubicle incident with teammate Kurt Mann.

Ponga and Mann were escorted from a Newcastle pub on Saturday and the NRL Integrity Unit have since requested the pair to provide drug samples.

The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio says the major issue is that Ponga has the Knights at ransom as he is on a long-term contract worth millions of dollars and has shown a lack of leadership as well as being unable to string consistent performances together.

“The Knights have got an issue here because they have Kalyn Ponga on contract for the next five seasons,” Riccio said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.

“There are some at the club who are now questioning that decision.

“Due to the way he has carried himself over this season and his performances for the footy club when he does play.

“We have seen performances for the Queensland State of Origin that don’t stack up for performances with the Newcastle Knights.

“Genuine questions are being asked about whether Kalyn Ponga is 100 percent invested in the Newcastle Knights.

“That is the concern.”

Despite being injured for the remainder of the season, Ponga was criticized for not traveling to Brisbane with the struggling club given that he is the captain of the side.

While Riccio said he had no issue with Ponga remaining in Newcastle over the weekend, he believes the fullback has not shown enough leadership qualities and should not captain the Knights moving forward.

“You would like to think your captain is not out drinking at the same time your team is playing,” Riccio added.

“It’s not about him being on the sidelines in Newcastle, it’s about him making the right decisions at the right time as a leader of that footy club.

“I honestly don’t think he is the captain of that footy club.”

The Knights are in a race to avoid the wooden spoon and will host a Canberra Raiders side with everything to play for on August 21.


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