“I’m not leaving,” rages Ponga when Bunker HIA forces him to leave with Wild on the line

Kalyn Ponga has targeted Bunker concussion protocols after the independent doctor forced his removal late in Newcastle’s 20-12 loss to the Warriors in Wellington.

Ponga was also stunned after being told to fold late in the game after the referee took independent doctor’s advice after a previous tackle with Warriors forward Addin Fonua-Blake.

“It’ll be interesting to see how they see it,” Ponga said. “I’ve been unconscious before and definitely wasn’t in any condition,”

“I could not believe it. 10 minutes left, game on the line. I’m literally fine. I think there is an investigation that usually takes place, but I was dropped off by an independent doctor.

“It surprised me, I said to the referee ‘I’m not going’ but it’s not his call, it’s someone in a box.

“I did it (the HIA) in the tunnel, but it’s a 10-minute process, but there’s usually a process on the field where they check your balance. But that wasn’t the case, because somewhere there was an independent doctor in a box, right out.

Knights coach Adam O’Brien described the bunker as “shadow jumping” to shut out players.

“There was a minute left, so he was out of the game,” he said.

“But he wasn’t aware of any incident, as he said, he knows how they feel. And we’ve been working really hard, he has to put himself back in the game and now we’re jumping on shadows to get him out of the game, I don’t get it.

Resilience was the theme of the night for new Warriors coach Andrew Webster, who was delighted to start his head coaching career with a win.

The Warriors put on a bold defensive effort to earn a 2-12 win over the Knights in Wellington on Friday Knight, with Webster clearly delighted to pick up the two points and proud to see his side dig deep.

“I’m proud that the boys finished Round 1 with a win, I thought it was excellent,” said Webster.

“We weren’t smart at times, we made it difficult for ourselves, but we had a lot of resilience tonight and I was really proud of that.

“I was proud of how we dug in and defended our line. We kept showing up for each other, which is the most enjoyable part.

Webster was full of praise for new signing Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who was brilliant on his return to the Warriors.

“Charnz is just a competitor for 80 minutes, he was outstanding,” Webster said.

“Talk about resilience – he drops the ball in the first set and then bounces back to be one of the best players on the field.

“That’s when you know you’ve got a guy who can get rid of that emotion and keep up with every play for the rest of the game.”

While Webster knows it was only their first game of the season, he’s adamant there will be more efforts of this kind from the Warriors.

“It’s not a coincidence, it’s not something we just put in Round 1. It’s just very gratifying that we dug in. It looks like it won’t be in our DNA if we continue like this.”

Marata Niukore. (Photo by James Foy/Getty Images)

It was a long night for the visitors. All eyes were on Ponga in his fresh number six shirt on Friday night and while the Newcastle co-captain admitted he’s still getting his feet ready, he’s enjoying the move from full-back into halves and has been happy with what he’s doing from the rest saw his spine.

“It was really different for me, obviously playing at six, but I really enjoyed it,” Ponga said after the game.

“There’s so much footy to play with. Obviously we’re still getting used to each other’s styles, but there were a lot of good signs tonight.

“It was our first game together as Spine. It will only get better and it will only grow. And I’m looking forward to that.”

https://www.theroar.com.au/2023/03/03/reaction-webster-proud-of-resilience-and-cnz-while-ponga-is-excited-to-see-knights-spine-grow/ "I'm not leaving," rages Ponga when Bunker HIA forces him to leave with Wild on the line


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