Under-Fire Knights manager Adam O’Brien reveals why people think Kalyn Ponga DOESN’T CARE about football after her pub bathroom scandal, and admits her biggest mistake in a season of horror.
- Knights coach Adam O’Brien defended fullback Kalyn Put under fire
- O’Brien insists the 24-year-old is determined to realize his obvious talent.
- The coach also admitted that he has not been tough enough with the playing group.
- The gentlemen sit 14th on the NRL ladder, with just six wins after 22 rounds.
Knights coach Adam O’Brien has broken his silence and revealed why he thinks football fans think Kalyn Ponga doesn’t care about his career following the pub toilet scandal last weekend.
O’Brien has also vowed to install a tougher lead on the club in the off-season, with his dismal 2022 campaign leading to intense speculation about his future with the club.
Ponga, 24, has been a magnet for criticism, but O’Brien defended his fullback, who is the co-captain and signed a monster five-year contract worth more than $5 million in April.
“Kalyn may seem like she doesn’t care because of her laid-back nature and the way she talks, but behind the scenes I see the way she acts,” the trainer told News Corp.
Knights under fire coach Adam O’Brien has admitted that Kalyn Ponga may seem too laid back with his football to be a highly paid superstar captain.
Ponga, 24, has been attracting unwanted headlines all week after he was embroiled in a pub toilet cubicle saga last weekend in Newcastle’s CBD with teammate Kurt Mann.
“We haven’t seen the best of his football, that’s very good in front of him and he’s developing in a lot of areas that don’t always show up in 80-minute games.”
O’Brien said the club needed to develop Ponga as a leader, and while he was disappointed with last weekend’s events at Newcastle’s CBD, he reserved judgment until the NRL Integrity Unit completed its investigation into the man. affair.
Speaking before Sunday’s home game against the Raiders, O’Brien also admitted that standards need to improve sooner rather than later.
Aside from the Ponga fiasco, David Klemmer was dropped for a week after abusing head coach Hayden Knowles on the pitch and this weekend full-backs Bradman Best and Enari Tuala will play the NSW Cup after missing a team bus on Sunday. spent in Brisbane.
O’Brien also admitted to making a big mistake with the team this year.
“I need to push for more stringent standards and get guys where I need them to go,” he said.
“What disappoints me about myself is that I allowed comments about my nature to soften me in some areas.
I need to come back to myself a bit. I need to be who I am and be consistent with that and not cut and change, so that the players don’t know what kind of coach they will have every day.”
He is convinced that he has enough talent in his 30-man squad to see the Knights much more competitive in 2023.
Ponga’s father, Andre, offered an explanation for the bathroom saga, stating that the teammates were in the cubicle together due to illness; journalists and soccer fans received it with cynicism.
Ponga is as good as any NRL fullback in his day, but so far he hasn’t been able to justify his monstrous annual salary of $1.2 million per season with the Knights.
The focus will be “nailing” the preseason in November, before O’Brien added that if Wests Tigers running back Luke Brooks were available, his experience could be invaluable.
Anthony Milford will leave the club in a few weeks to join Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins, while Jake Clifford and Adam Clune have not taken their chances in the halves.
In better news for long-suffering Knights fans, the appointment of Peter Parr as the club’s head of football is a shrewd move.
Parr will not accept low standards and will foster a culture that desperately needs to improve.
After the Raiders clash at home this Sunday, the Knights take on the Titans and Sharks to see what has been a testing season on many levels.