Andrew Johns ripped by NRL fans over 'embarrassing' commentary around Kalyn Ponga

The Newcastle Knights legend got it all wrong in regards to the fullback's hip injury.

Andrew Johns copped a pasting from NRL fans on social media on Thursday night after he repeatedly called for Kalyn Ponga to be taken off the field. Ponga made a barnstorming start to the Knights' clash with the Roosters in Newcastle, but appeared to injure his hip while trying to stop a try to Daniel Tupou.

He was left wincing in pain and grabbed at his hip after the ensuing kick-off, and was basically a passenger for the next 20 minutes as he jogged around trying to play through the pain. Ponga looked very ginger and could be seen grabbing at the area a number of times, but managed to stay on the field until half-time.

Andrew Johns and Kalyn Ponga.
Andrew Johns' commentary around Kalyn Ponga's injury was blasted by NRL fans. Image: Getty

Speaking in commentary for Channel 9, Johns declared that Ponga was "gone" a number of times, and called for the Knights to drag him off the field if he refused to leave on his own accord. But Ponga came back out at the start of the second half, and looked to be moving much more freely after receiving some treatment.

He did wince in pain after passing the ball in the first few seconds of the second half, leaving Johns gobsmacked he was still playing. "Surely someone has to make the decision about Kalyn Ponga and get him off the field," Johns said. "The decision has to be taken off the player."

Kalyn Ponga, pictured here after injuring his hip.
Kalyn Ponga appeared to be in a world of pain with the hip injury. Image: Channel 9

Andrew Johns ripped by NRL fans over Kalyn Ponga call

But Johns, who has a penchant for diagnosing players without any information whatsoever, failed to realise that Ponga wouldn't have come from the field because he would have cooled down and made the injury worse. By playing on until half-time he kept the area warm, allowing trainers to treat it during the break and give him a pain-killing injection.

If he had have come from the field in the first half it would have wasted an interchange and made it more difficult for Ponga to return. As it turned out, the treatment at half-time worked wonders and Ponga returned to his brilliant best in the second stanza.


Johns' fellow commentators were quick to poke fun at him for saying Ponga was 'gone', and the Immortal was happy to admit he was wrong. But NRL fans are growing increasingly tired of the way Johns tries to diagnose players without any real knowledge of what is going on.

The Knights legend has declared a number of times in the past that a player might have suffered a season-ending injury, only to learn soon after that the ailment is much more minor. On Thursday night he was among the many to suggest Ponga had injured his hip flexor when in actual fact it was his hip pointer, with fans labelling his comments 'cringe' and 'embarrassing'.

Kalyn Ponga praised for courageous effort with injury

Because the injury wasn't muscular (like a hip flexor), the only real issue for Ponga was pain management. Once he got the injection at half-time he was moving without restriction and made a number of breaks in the second 40 minutes.

"Few needles at half-time definitely helped," Ponga said after the game. "It shouldn't be too bad I think, I just banged my hip. I was never going to come off myself. I got to half-time and just waited to see how it was and I was sweet in the second half."

Knights coach Adam O'Brien praised his fullback for the courageous display, which wasn't enough to prevent the Roosters winning 22-20. “(He’s) sore, very sore, it was a remarkable job what he has done for us. Brave and tough,” O’Brien said.

“No one can ever question that kid’s toughness, I’m amazed... I was thinking 'please battle on', I kept a close eye on him and I knew the kicking, we had to change our kick plan.

“He wasn’t able to do any general play kicking, I could see he was in some discomfort and speaking to the medical staff they said ‘we will give it a crack at half-time to try get it going’. But I can tell now in his face, he’s pale, he is in a lot of pain... apparently they are excruciating.”