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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Barry Toohey

TOOHEY'S NEWS: Come on Kalyn, it's time to end the circus

OK's time.

Time to put an end to the circus surrounding your playing future.

Get together with your dad and manager Andre and make a decision. Either commit to the Knights or let the club know they can spend your $1 million-plus salary for next year elsewhere.

The longer Knights skipper Ponga deliberates, the more pressure he is putting on himself and the team. And after three straight defeats, Adam O'Brien's injury-ravaged squad doesn't need to be weighed down by any added pressure from within.

Kalyn Ponga

Ponga, himself, doesn't need the spotlight. He has been a shadow of his brilliant best to start the season. A knee issue isn't helping and neither is a forward pack light on for troops due to injury and suspension that has been dominated in recent weeks.

Right now, the Knights fullback is playing like a $400,000 player with the weight of the world on his shoulders, not a million dollar marquee man confidently leading from the front.

And the longer he waits to end the speculation over whether he is staying or going, the more the sentiment among fed up fans turns against him.

Cameron Munster is on the market for 2024 and would become a genuine target for the club if Ponga departs.

But thanks to the contract clauses in his favour, until he and his father make a call one way or the other, Newcastle's recruitment hands are tied.

Crokes in demand

It's been a tough week for rookie Knights prop Mat Croker....but we're hearing there could be some good news on the horizon.

Croker faces a six-week stint on the sideline after undergoing surgery for a broken jaw suffered during his side's NSW Cup clash last Sunday.

He'll be eating out of a straw for the next couple of weeks. But what will make the pureed food taste better is he is set to finally be rewarded with a top 30 contract with the club next season. There is also talk the Dolphins have shown interest.

Griffiths in line

Former Kurri Bulldogs coach Ron Griffiths is the street corner tip to be appointed Knights NRL Women's coach for the 2022 competition that kicks off later this season.

Griffiths is likely to take the reins from Casey Bromilow, who was the club's inaugural coach for Newcastle's debut season in the competition.

Griffiths, who last coached the Bulldogs in 2019, has spent the past two years as a coaching assistant to Michael Maguire at the Wests Tigers.

He's now at the Knights in a pathways coaching and mentoring role, is a key figure in the club's Knight Strong indigenous health and well-being program and will coach the club's Harvey Norman women's team.

Knights sisterhood

Still on the women's game, the hottest rumour around is current Sydney Roosters and Jillaroos star Hannah Southwell will be in Knights' colours later this year, potentially playing alongside her younger sister Jesse for the first time at NRL level.

Hannah will play lock for the Roosters in tomorrow's grand final against St George Illawarra at Redcliffe in her final game for the club.

Wave of success

It's been a big week for local strength & conditioning guru Adam Trypas.

After successful stints abroad coaching at a number of big rugby clubs across Japan, France and Ireland, Trypas has been back in Newcastle and is training a stable of aspiring professional surfers, climbers & skaters out of his own home gym.

Merewether surfing professionals Ryan Callinan and first year rookie Jackson Baker along with Italian Olympian Leonardo Fioravanti headline a growing list of athletes he has on his books, which also includes Olympic skateboarder Poppy Starr Olsen.

Baker's Surfest win last weekend with Callinan finishing third capped off an amazing week. While often forced to coach remotely, Trypas had them all under his roof in the lead up to Surfest and again this week as they prepare for The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.

Sharpe as a tack

He's the slightly built fullback with speed to burn from Cessnock with the mullet haircut drawing Papenhuyzen-like comparisons.

Last weekend, Fletcher Sharpe scored six tries in the Knights' 76-0 demolition of the Dragons in the S G Ball competition.

Today, the Adam Bettridge-coached Under 19's side can wrap up second spot for the play-offs and earn a week off if they knock over Penrith in the final round at the Maitland Sportsground.

Sharpe is not the only standout. Forwards Myles Martin, Paul Bryan and Oryn Keeley and centre Chris Vea'ila are all potential future NRL players.

Baz's Best

Knights workhorse Tyson Frizell has grabbed the outright lead while Chris Randall has been the big mover in Baz's Best player of the year poll after five rounds.

Against Manly on Thursday night , no player stood out with Randall polling top points on the strength of a non-stop 80 minute performance in the wet.

Rd 4: Knights v Sharks

3 Dom Young 2 Chris Randall 1 Kurt Mann

Rd 5: Knights v Manly

3 Chris Randall 2 Tyson Frizell 1 Kurt Mann

Progress points: 6 Tyson Frizell. 5 Chris Randall, Kurt Mann. 4 Dane Gagai, Jake Clifford. 3 Dom Young. 2 Tex Hoy. 1 Mitch Barnett.

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