Knights coach Adam O’Brien wants to “wait and see” on scans revealing Kalyn Ponga’s shoulder this week, but has named a possible replacement if necessary.
The Knights’ 32-6 victory over the Sharks was Newcastle’s eighth in a row and ensures O’Brien’s side will host a home final in a fortnight.
However, the victory was overshadowed by the injury to Ponga, who left the match after receiving a heavy blow to his left shoulder.
“Is the last house locked?? “” O’Brien asked reporters at the start of the post-match press conference..
When told it was confirmed, O’Brien replied:
“This summer we didn’t talk about the big finals, but we talked about how great it would be to play the semi-finals at home.. I’m really proud that the boys have achieved the goal we set a long time ago.
O’Brien was later questioned about Ponga but was unable to provide much information.
“I don’t have (update).
He was in the medical room with the door closed so I didn’t have a chance (to meet him) but he was my first point of contact after that,” the Knights coach said.
The Knights face the Dragons next week and with a home final secured, O’Brien says there is every chance Ponga will have the matchday 27 to recover.
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‘I’ll make that decision once we know what it is.. I certainly won’t be stupid with him, that’s for sure,” O’Brien said..
“Regarding next week, with the home semi-final locked, I also don’t want to make many changes because the team’s tempo is important, but I won’t risk anyone struggling.
Ponga has been the league’s in-form fullback since returning to his preferred position.
He replaces midfielder Lachie Miller, who played as a substitute and struggled with injuries.
Miller has also signed for Leeds in Super League and will leave the Knights at the end of the season, but he could get another chance at NRL level before flying out.
“Lachie Miller hasn’t left us yet, so he would be right,” O’Brien replied when asked who would replace Ponga.
“He’s training well, he’s been out for a few weeks with a calf injury, but the medical staff examined him this morning before I got here, so he’ll probably be is his replacement..”
“He will come and do good..”