Phil Gould fears Kalin Ponga’s rugby league career is “in jeopardy” and is baffled by the Knights’ insistence on moving the co-captain from fullback to five-eighth.
Ponga suffered his fourth head injury in 10 months when he collided with Wests Tigers second-rower Asu Kepaoa on Sunday afternoon.
The Queensland-born weapon was knocked out after less than 80 seconds of preparation inside Castle Leichhardt Oval.
READ MORE: Knights crushed by the “madness” of the Ponga position switch
READ MORE: “The scourge of the planet” was revealed in the Latrell saga
READ MORE: Tedesco’s signing delivers a turnaround deal to Suaalii’s mega-hit
Gould expressed concern that Ponga is playing at 5-8, where he is forced to make more tackles than at fullback when pressed at Nine. 100% Footy Monday night.
“The people who train him and work with him every day probably know best what position he should play. That’s why I don’t like to second-guess coaches,” Gould said.
“I just don’t understand the obsession with moving class full-backs to five-eighths these days. Maybe because they can go and buy another full-back but they can’t go and buy another five-eighth.
“I just don’t know that it’s the right position for him at this point.”
The last time Ponga suffered a concussion before Sunday was when he was hit high by Matt Lodge in July last year.
Ponga, who suffered his third concussion in three weeks, has not played again in 2022.
Newcastle then converted him to five-eighth in the summer, pairing him with off-season recruit Jackson Hastings in the half and handing Lachlan Miller, another new signing, the No.1 jumper.
Stream NRL Premiership 2023 live and free 9 Now
“My concern with Kalin, and I’ve had two players out with concussions in my career, is the ease with which it happens now,” Gould added.
“I don’t see those knocks as anything above, (or the knocks) that should cause such a problem for him. It’s just that now he seems to be reacting poorly to collisions that are really easy, and that’s not a good sign. .
Galen’s take on why Hastings ruffles feathers
“I think his career is in jeopardy, to be honest, I don’t know how you put that.
“What worries me more is how easily they are shaken and how it happens again.”
Paul Gallen is also worried about the way Ponga is dealing with head injuries
“He doesn’t just get a concussion, he doesn’t just get hit and fall and stumble to get back up, he’s out,” Gallen said.
“When he gets hit, he freezes on the way to the ground. It’s a scary thing to me… It was a fair shot, but you see them in probably quite a few fights in the game, and as I say, he was out. He never hit the ground and he was stunned, he was out, he was cold, he was cold from the moment he hit. So that’s a concern.”
:For a daily dose of the best news and exclusive content from the wider world of sports, subscribe to our newsletter by by clicking here!