Cavaliers boss Colin Ponga has come under fire for not caring enough about the Newcastle club after drinking heavily as his side were beaten by the Broncos.
Ponga and teammate Kurt Mann were drug tested by the NRL on Tuesday after being kicked out of a pub toilet, the results of which are yet to be determined and cannot be released due to the NRL’s drug policy.
Earlier, Knights head of football Peter Parr refused to draw on whether the players would be punished, but Paul Crowley told NRL 360 that both, and in particular club captain Ponga, should be punished.
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“Peter Parr came into the club so he’s not responsible for the culture, but he was a cop,” Crowley said.
He said he was not sure if there would be any punishment for Kalin Ponga. He should be fined because he has embarrassed the club.
“Calin Ponga is having a drink in a Newcastle nightclub when the team are being beaten by the Broncos and Adam O’Brien says they are trying their hardest.
“He is the boss of this club. The fans in rugby league are very loyal and passionate fans.
“They stuck with this team through thick and thin and when the team ended the season in disgrace, Ponga was on the drink. He made a mistake. He needs punishment.
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Paul Kent pointed out the inconsistencies in the stories coming from the club and Ponga’s management, suggesting that their stories were not directly related to the incident.
“The other part we had to figure out was there were a lot of contradictions in the stories,” Kent said.
“Peter Parr proposed today, Ponga was not too upset. He didn’t believe that was the case and as far as he knew there was no cure.
“The day before, Kalin Ponga’s father and manager, Andre, came out and said I had a little too much and he was in there because he was so drunk he had to throw up a bit. He said today.
“So they don’t really understand their story, which is an indication that they are doing everything they can from different angles to cover up and hide what happened.”
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Kent believes Ponga’s handling of the club is more serious than any drug offence.
“It’s the club’s issue because he was drinking when the club was playing on TV, so that’s the biggest part of the care.
“Let’s skip the medicine section. I don’t think that’s indicative of a bad culture at the Knights because I think this problem is a problem at every NRL club in the pocket. Not in every club, but in pockets of every NRL club this is happening.
But the captain of the club, who is paid a million dollars a year, does not care so much that instead of sitting at home and watching how they play, he is on the soup.
“That’s the thing. It is the culture we are talking about that deserves attention. For now it’s the light pole date, so that’s where we should start with this investigation.
The Daily Telegraph’s Dave Riccio has revealed that there are concerns within the Knights’ organization about the investment in the Fringe Ponga Club.
“Obviously there is an underlying feeling at Newcastle Knights that Colin Ponga is not 1000 per cent committed to this football club,” Riccio said.
“He is 1000 percent committed to his teammates and what leadership looks like.
“Is there a real sense of how we can get the best out of Kalin Ponga?
“The Cavaliers were concerned that Kalin Ponga had produced a man-of-the-match performance for the Queensland Off-Offs original team, but he didn’t have the same performance for the Cavaliers.”
However, Bright Anasta believes the Knights must take responsibility for signing Ponga to a lucrative long-term contract and making him captain if he is not the right man for the job.
“The club has to take some responsibility,” Anasta said.
“They signed this kid to a five-year deal. Now they’re saying they’re not sure he’s committed. It was only a few months ago.
Knowing that his performance was inconsistent, they signed him to a five-year contract.
Kent believes the Knights are scared to sign Ponga to a monster extension and could embarrass the club even more in the long run.
“Only a few months ago they overpaid for it because they bought it out of embarrassment,” Kent said.
“They were afraid of being embarrassed if he left the club.
We talked about the Wayne Bennett interview. Wayne Bennett’s Reality for Ponga Do you want to go and test yourself to see how good you can be or stay where you are comfortable.
“Ponga went out and stayed where he was comfortable, denying what Bennett had said.
“There should have been five bells for the knights.”
Crowley believes Ponga has had a free ride since arriving at the Knights and has yet to realize his potential as a rugby league player.
“He invited the old man to the press conference, which he absolutely asked for,” Crowley said.
“They helped create the problem. When Ponga first arrived at the club, he came from the Cowboys as a super-boy and was going to be the next big thing.
“They’ve been yearning for it all the way. He is paid to play football. Teach him to be a football player.”