Kalyn Ponga, his Knights teammates and coach Adam O’Brien are bombarded with questions about the megastar fullback’s future whenever the media gets a chance, and his contract situation is an incessant topic of conversation at the pub, in the office and on the train.
The advice of rugby league icon Phil Gould to Ponga amid the relentless chatter is to block it out and not rush his decision.
The fiasco intensified during the opening half of the Knights’ thrilling clash with the Dragons in Wollongong on Sunday afternoon, when a News Corp report surfaced claiming Newcastle had pulled its offer to Ponga.
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On Nine’s coverage of Newcastle’s match against St George Illawarra, Knights coaching consultant Andrew Johns shot down the claim that the club had retracted its offer to Ponga, before O’Brien did the same in his post-match press conference.
Gould had pointed advice for Ponga when the issue was raised on Monday night’s edition of Nine’s 100% Footy.
“I would say ignore the media and just get on with your own negotiations and your own business,” Gould said.
“Kalyn, take your time, buddy. You decide whenever you like. Don’t worry about these people in the media. You take your time, son, and do what’s best for you… put your feet up. Keep playing as well as you did yesterday and the world will unfold as it should. Don’t worry about all this.”
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While the Knights fell to the Dragons 21-16 in round six, the obsession with Ponga’s future didn’t appear to hinder the performance of the former Cowboy.
The 24-year-old racked up a try, a try assist, 240 run metres, 10 tackle busts, a linebreak and two linebreak assists.
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Possibly the most stellar moment of the match saw Ponga accelerate through a gap between two Dragons defenders on the right edge, slip through an attempted Moses Mbye tackle and pop a flick pass to winger Enari Tuala, who had little more to do than put the ball down for a try.
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Bennett recently flew to Sydney to meet with Ponga about his future.
When 100% Footy host James Bracey asked Paul Gallen how he’d react to the noise if he was in the same situation, the rugby league legend struggled to relate.
“It’s hard to answer that question because I’m not at Newcastle,” Gallen said.
“I don’t know what’s going on at Newcastle. I don’t know what he feels about Newcastle. I don’t know if he likes Newcastle. (I don’t know) if he wants to leave Newcastle. So, I don’t know. That’s only a decision Kalyn Ponga can make.”
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