Why Brown left Ponga out of the team

Kalyn Ponga could've taken the field for Saturday's game against St George Illawarra but it wasn't worth the risk.

The 20-year-old has battled an ankle injury for several weeks and with 2018 his first full season in the NRL, nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown made the tough call to rest him.

With Ponga a key member of the team, Brown and the medical staff decided not to tempt fate.

Rather than risk doing further damage to the ankle, Ponga will be kept in cotton wool which means he won't feature on Old Boys Day.

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"He could probably play," Brown admitted this week when speaking about the Dragons game.

"But there is a risk if he keeps playing. That was what we got told last week.

"He got put in the boots and the reports are, he'll be fine and he'll recover but if you keep pushing him, it'll get a lot worse.

"As much as we'd all love him to play and he'd like to play, he's obviously a high quality, high end player we feel can take the Club to where we need to get to. We certainly don't want to give him any chronic injury problems at such a young age."


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While missing Ponga for Saturday's match, the Knights still head into the game with plenty of confidence.

Despite missing out on the finals, Mitchell Pearce believes the team can take a lot of positives out of this season.

While he admits it's 'gunna suck' to not feature in finals, he's committed to ensuring the Knights enjoy sustained success in the future.


"I love the place and I love the boys here," Pearce said.

"Every day when you come in, there is always something new going on when a club is rebuilding.

"We can come up with a lot of different excuses [for this season].

"There has been a lot of injuries but there are areas in our game that need a lot of improvement. If we had those things nailed, we'd be coming first.

"That's the reason why we are fighting to finish 10th.

"We have a lot of things we need to improve on going into next season and that's part of why I'm here.

"I love the team and we are going onto bigger and better things. I'm really excited for a big off-season."