Andrew Johns makes 'sad' admission about Kalyn Ponga bathroom drama

Pictured right is Newcastle Knights great Andrew Johns and Kalyn Ponga on the left.
Newcastle Knights great Andrew Johns has weighed in on the controversy around club captain Kalyn Ponga. Pic: Twitter/Getty

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns admits the toilet cubicle controversy surrounding Newcastle Knights captain Kalyn Ponga "makes him sad".

Ponga and Mann remain in the spotlight after they were filmed being escorted out of a toilet cubicle at a Newcastle pub on Saturday night, while both are sidelined through injury.

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The pair were since drug tested on Tuesday, with Ponga's father claiming his son had merely been celebrating the purchase of a house when he fell ill and required Mann's assistance.

Knights director of football Peter Parr fronted the media on Tuesday and said the matter would not be taken further for the time being and it was now in the hands of the NRL Integrity Unit.

It also emerged that the NRL won't be releasing the results of the drug tests from Ponga or Mann.

Newcastle's greatest ever player, Johns discussed the controversy on Channel Nine's Freddy and the Eighth on Wednesday night, conceding that the situation is "not a good look" for Ponga.

“It’s hard for me to comment because I’ve lived a colourful life... but it makes me sad, not angry,” Johns said.

“The Kalyn and Kurt Mann stuff is still before the tribunal. It’s not a good look when your team is playing away and the captain’s out, and you’re out on the drink.”

The drama has shone the spotlight firmly on Newcastle captain Ponga, with many in the league world questioning whether he is the right man to lead the Knights.

Ponga only this year penned a monster new five-year deal with the Knights reportedly worth more than $6 million.

Seen here, Kalyn Ponga receiving attention after being tackled high in an NRL game for Newcastle against the Roosters.
Kalyn Ponga receives attention after being tackled high in an NRL game for Newcastle against the Roosters. Pic: Getty

Johns - who is also a coaching consultant at the Knights - says while he understands the questions around Ponga's leadership, he insists the star fullback is the right man to lead the club.

“Those questions are warranted,” he said. “I think he does (need the captaincy) – he’s their best player.”

Brad Fittler added: “He’s the one the whole club’s based on, you need him to lead and he’s just got to become a leader.”

Johns used the example of Parr's influence on a young Johnathan Thurston at the Cowboys, and says the Knights director of football can have a similar influence on honing Ponga's leadership qualities.

“I thought something Peter Parr said was that when JT (Johnathan Thurston) first went to the Cowboys, there was some rough edges and a few up and downs when JT first got the captaincy,” Johns said.

“But Parry mentored him and we all know the captain and player and leadership qualities of Johnathan Thurston, so hopefully with that sort of influence Kalyn can be that captain.”

RLPA questions why NRL is investigating players

The drama comes amid criticism from Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) boss Clint Newton, about why the NRL felt the need to investigate the Knights duo.

"We've said (to the NRL) we think this is completely flawed," Newton told AAP.

"What rule have they broken to warrant a code-of-conduct breach or some interview or that this warrants a target (drug) test?

"We are conflating the two issues here.

"One is the team cultural code that teams and club leaders plug into with regards to drinking whilst injured.

"That's for the club to work through with players.

"The other is the process and the confidentiality of this test. They're completely separate debates that are conflating into the same debate."

Kalyn Ponga is seen here in action for the Newcastle Knights in the NRL.
The NRL won't be releasing the reported drug tests from Kalyn Ponga or Kurt Mann under their policy. (Getty Images)

Under NRL rules test results are not published, but players who receive a second strike are banned for 12 matches.

However, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo defended the decision for the NRL Integrity Unit to investigate the incident.

"No-one is saying that they have breached the rules. But clearly there's been a lot of talk and a lot of media publicity around the incident," Abdo said.

"Our job is to get all the facts and then make the determination. And not to prejudge anything."

Neither Ponga or Mann will be lining-up for the Knights against Canberra this weekend due to injuries.

with AAP

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