The Knights are at a flash point moment with Kalyn Ponga with the club claiming the star fullback and Kurt Mann were only at the Delany Hotel in Newcastle for a grand total of 25 minutes on Saturday night.
Knights officials have been told Ponga and Mann supposedly arrived at the pub at 10.45pm on Saturday night and vacated the premises by 11.10pm.
Hotel staff have told the Knights neither player was intoxicated – which is at odds with Ponga’s father Andre’s version of the story claiming his son was crook in the toilet cubicle.
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On face value it’s a long way off the crime of the century but where the Knights are treading a dangerous path is how they handle any sanction they hand to their $1 million fullback.
It’s a bit rich axing Bradman Best and Enari Tuala to NSW Cup for being six minutes late for the team bus on Sunday morning and hitting David Klemmer with a breach notice for refusing to follow a trainer’s orders yet then allowing Ponga to get a free pass.
Is Ponga a protected species in Newcastle? Because that’s how it looks.
Knights utility Mann is expected to be fined for drinking while being sidelined with a soft tissue injury but the early suggestion out of Newcastle is Ponga may escape any sort of punishment.
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If that’s the case then the Knights are going to leave themselves open to a barrage of criticism about Ponga being a koala bear while the rest of the Newcastle roster is held to a different set of standards.
The Knights are adamant no medical staff had given Ponga a directive to avoid alcohol.
From an outside point of view, it all lends itself to Ponga simply running his own race.
Who’s really running the show at Newcastle? Is it Peter Parr or Phil Gardener? Or is it Andre Ponga?
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We’re also about to find out exactly how serious Ponga is about his five-year $6 million Newcastle contract.
If the Knights co-captain is fair dinkum about leading the club out of its current steaming mess then Ponga will sacrifice going to the World Cup with the Kangaroos in November.
Instead of going to the UK and retuning to pre-season at the end of January, he’ll set the standard in Newcastle from November 1.
Rip into pre-season with a view to flying out of the blocks for the Knights in 2023.
That’s the best way to show the Knights loyal legion of members and fans you’re truly invested in the club – not skateboarding and taking photographs at the beach.