NRL fans left shattered over devastating new Kalyn Ponga blow

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Kalyn Ponga, pictured here leaving the field during Newcastle's loss to the Roosters.
Kalyn Ponga leaves the field during Newcastle's loss to the Roosters. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Newcastle Knights coach Adam O'Brien has conceded superstar fullback Kalyn Ponga might have to miss another couple of weeks after sustaining a second concussion this month.

Ponga failed a head injury assessment in just the seventh minute of the Knights' 42-12 loss to the Roosters on Friday night.

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The battle between James Tedesco and his opposing Origin fullback Ponga was supposed to be one of the highlights of the game - but it didn't even last 10 minutes.

An outstretched left arm by Matt Lodge sent the Newcastle No.1 to the turf and then off for a head assessment, which he failed.

It was the skipper's second head knock in the last four weeks after he sat out two club games with the first concussion.

It was also the fifth time Ponga has undergone an HIA this season and the third one he failed.

O'Brien said it was premature to say what might happen to Ponga as the medics would have to assess him, but seemed consigned to losing his talismanic fullback.

"I'm more concerned with how upset he is - he's pretty emotional because he feels like he's let everyone down," the coach said.

Fans and commentators were also left gutted for Ponga after his man-of-the-match performance in Queensland's State of Origin triumph in Game III.

Back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon also suffered a recurrence of a previous shoulder injury, which according to O'Brien is "not looking good either".

In contrast, the Roosters lost three players to injuries from last week's win over the Dragons but still managed to fill the holes, rattling off an eight tries-to-two victory.

The Knights had 51 per cent of possession, made the same number of errors (10) and had one less penalty than the Roosters, but missed 43 tackles to the visitors' 18.

"It seems like I'm re-doing this press conference on loop at the moment for home games," O'Brien said.

"We've got a lot of work to do to fix where we're at as a group. And it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of time unfortunately."

Kalyn Ponga, pictured here receiving attention after being tackled high by Matt Lodge.
Kalyn Ponga receives attention after being tackled high by Matt Lodge. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Newcastle Knights woes go from bad to worse

With six rounds left and the NRL finals no longer in reach, O'Brien was asked if he would make adjustments to his roster in those remaining games, with a view to 2023.

"I won't do it just because the season is gone.... you're just handing the jersey to blokes who haven't earned it," he said.

"You just cheapen the jersey I think. But there's no doubt there's guys in there that probably need to feel what it's like to lose one."

O'Brien cited the example of bench player Phoenix Crossland, who came on for Ponga and slotted into the halves so Anthony Milford could move to fullback.

Adam O'Brien, pictured here during the Newcastle Knights' loss to the Roosters.
Adam O'Brien looks on during the Newcastle Knights' loss to the Roosters. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Crossland scored a try, made 10 runs for 74 metres and busted out of two tackles while he searched for some creative plays.

"I was really happy to see a young bloke like Phoenix come on, and I thought he added some real spark," O'Brien said.

"I want to see that. I want to see blokes that want to rip in for the jersey and they'll be rewarded with selections."

The Knights next face another down-on-their-luck team in the Canterbury Bulldogs, who also have 13 losses for the season and sit 14th, one below the Knights on the NRL ladder.

with AAP

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