Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
As the Newcastle Knights marquee player and captain Kalyn Ponga has thus far failed to help turn the club into a premiership contender.
Since joining the Knights on a lucrative deal in 2018 he has become a consistent performer for the Queensland State of Origin team but his form for Newcastle has been up and down with injuries playing a big role during his poor patches.
Following an abysmal period between 2014 and 2017 the Knights finally started to rebuild their squad by signing big-name players such as Mitchell Pearce and nabbing Ponga’s signature after he had played just a handful of games in the NRL.
Pearce and Ponga were seen as two of the men who would lead Newcastle to their third premiership but unfortunately things have not turned out that way with the club only qualifying for two finals series since where they were instantly eliminated on both occasions.
The pressure on Ponga has only worsened with Pearce’s departure before last season and Newcastle’s director of football has called for the fullback to step up in a recent appearance on The Big Sports Breakfast.
“His [Ponga’s] form for Queensland is impeccable and he plays those games like he wants it more than any other game he has played in,” said Parr.
Peter Parr has issued a challenge to Knights skipper Kalyn Ponga amid his vision for a return to the club's glory days 🧐❓
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) November 25, 2022
“I think when you watch someone like James Tedesco, he plays like that every weekend.
“I think that is where Kalyn needs to get to.
“I think that is where Kalyn would like to get to.
“I know he has a great desire to get more consistency in his footy.
“He knows what he is capable of and he also understands that he hasn’t done it on a consistent basis at club level.
“I think he is getting to the stage of his career where he needs to start owning this footy team.”
While Parr’s comments certainly put more pressure on Ponga the Newcastle faithful will be hoping it motivates the Knights captain to improve in 2023.
New signing Jackson Hastings is sure to make his transition back into the five-eighth role easier as the Knights look to further develop their spine into one that can take them back to the finals.