The healing hands of Newcastle’s medical staff have helped Queenslanders Kalyn Ponga and Tim Glasby recover from the physical wounds they suffered in Origin II in Perth last Sunday.
But the open arms of their Knights team-mates should ensure there is no lingering psychological damage when they try to bounce back against Brisbane at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
Adding to the insult of a 38-6 battering by the Blues, which set up a series decider in Sydney on July 10, Ponga (corked thigh) and Glasby (strained elbow ligaments) sustained minor injuries but both are expected to line up against the Broncos.
“That was last week, and I’ve got to focus on this game this week,” Ponga said on Thursday.
“I just get around my mates – I love being around my mates – and just focus on the next thing at hand, pretty much. That’s what I do.”
Ponga even received a welcome-home hug from house-mate and proud New South Welshman Connor Watson when he returned to Newcastle on Monday morning, having caught the red-eye back from Perth with Glasby and NSW prop Daniel Saifiti.
“He’s good like that. He’s my mate,” Ponga said.
“He gives me a hug and whatnot when I get home, if I’m feeling down.
“Obviously after the first [Origin game] I was a bit happy but he goes light on me [after a loss].”
Ponga will be eased through Friday’s final training run but is confident of playing on Saturday.
“I feel good now. I trained today, and had my first run since the [Origin] game … and I’m being looked after by the physios,” Ponga said.
“I should be right by the game. Obviously it’s still a bit sore but I’m ticking all the boxes.”
Ponga said the Knights were keen to bounce back after their last-start 34-4 loss to the Storm in Melbourne on June 15, which ended their six-game winning streak.
The game against the Broncos will be their first at home since their 38-12 thumping of Sydney Roosters five weeks ago in front of a parochial crowd of almost 26,000.
“We love playing at home. We love the support that we get, and that crowd obviously lifts us,” Ponga said.
Glasby said his elbow had responded well to treatment since Sunday night, and he appreciated the six-day gap between games.
“I think if it was a Wednesday [Origin] game, I would have been at long odds to play a couple of days after,” Glasby said.
“But thankfully, with the longer turn-around … it’s meant that I’m a better chance and it’s given it another few days to settle down, which I think it needed.
“It was quite stiff and sore after the game … but it’s come good over the last few days and structurally it’s pretty sound, so they’re happy for me to get out there as long as I’m comfortable, and I trained today and it went well.
“I did a bit of tackling at the end of the session today, just to make sure it was OK, and I’m comfortable with it … and if I’m comfortable with it, they’ll be happy to let me go.”
Like Ponga, Glasby has enjoyed the tender loving care provided by his Newcastle team-mates as they prepare for a game in front of their home crowd.
“It was good to get back and do some recovery on Tuesday and get back around the boys, because you don’t see them that much around this time of year,” he said.
“We had a disappointing loss against Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, so we’re looking at preparing well this week and getting into it on Saturday.
“That crowd against the Roosters was electric.
“Obviously we were on the back of a four- or five-game winning streak, so we’d done some pretty good stuff away and came home to a really great crowd. It was unreal.
“It was one of the better atmospheres I’ve played in front of in terms of a regular-season home-and-away game, so it was a great crowd and I’m looking forward to being back at home this weekend.”