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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Max McKinney

Knights duo dropped as Ponga, Mann toilet cubicle investigation continues

Newcastle Knights ' Kalyn Ponga and friend asked to leave toilet cubicle | August 15, 2022 | Newcastle Herald

Newcastle have drawn a line in the sand on their culture by dumping Bradman Best and Enari Tuala to reserve grade for failing to arrive to the team bus on time.

As the investigation into the Kalyn Ponga and Kurt Mann toilet cubicle video continued on Tuesday, the Knights announced Best and Tuala wouldn't be considered for selection for Sunday's clash with Canberra at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Knights director of football Peter Parr said the two outside backs had been late to arrive for the team's departure from a Brisbane hotel the morning after Saturday's 28-10 loss to the Broncos.

While a minor incident, Parr said the club had to punish the duo if it wanted to improve its overall culture.

"They weren't late by a long period of time, but we just believe they didn't meet the standards necessary," he said.

"If you're not getting what some people consider the smaller things right, than you're no hope of getting the bigger-picture stuff right."

Addressing the Ponga and Mann incident, Parr said an investigation was ongoing but he expected it to conclude in coming days.

SPOTLIGHT: Kalyn Ponga. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

"The integrity unit is now involved," he said. "They'll now run the process and we'll support them in that."

Ponga returned to the training pitch on Tuesday while Mann continued his recovery from a leg injury.

The duo, who were filmed leaving a toilet cubicle at Hotel Delany in Cooks Hill on Saturday night, are both unavailable for selection this week due to their injuries.

Parr confirmed Ponga and Mann had been out drinking while the team faced Brisbane, but said he could not offer his opinion on what occurred in the toilet cubicle.

Peter Parr. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Ponga's father, Andre, said his son had been out celebrating the purchase of a new $2.4 million house in Merewether earlier that day and was in the cubicle because he had become sick.

Mann, Andre said, went to Ponga's aid in the cubicle.

The newly appointed club boss would not be drawn on any potential punishments Ponga and Mann might face, suggesting there may not be any given they were not subject to an alcohol-ban just because they were injured.

Newcastle Knights director Peter Parr addresses toilet cubicle video of Kalyn Ponga and Kurt Mann | August 16, 2022 | Newcastle Herald

"We don't know if there is any punishment to be had," Parr said.

"We'll run the process, work out exactly what happened or what hasn't happened and then make some decisions there.

"Just because it's not a good look doesn't mean anyone has done anything wrong."

Parr, who was at North Queensland for more than two decades and was part of their 2015 premiership-winning season, admitted the Knights do not have strong leadership at player level.

But he defended Kalyn Ponga, who was appointed captain earlier this year, by highlighting Cowboys great Jonathan Thurston's early experiences as a leader.

"There has been a lack of leadership around the playing group," Parr said.

"That's not all on them, because it's a young group and just because you make someone a leader or put them in a position of leadership, doesn't necessarily mean they're going to grasp the leadership straight away.

"There can be an education process.

"The club and the coaching staff, everybody has a role in playing to educate the players in that facet.

"I worked with a captain for a long period in my previous job and he was appointed very young and he had a few bumps in the road early.

"I think everyone will agree he turned out one of the better leaders in the game."

DUMPED: Bradman Best. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

PODCAST: Peter Parr reveals his plans to turn Newcastle Knights around

Newcastle will name a side for Sunday's clash with Canberra at 4pm on Tuesday.

Hymel Hunt and Edrick Lee appear the logical replacements for dumped duo Bradman Best and Enari Tuala.

David Klemmer would also appear in some doubt after missing, at least part, of training on Tuesday.

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