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With their toilet season, where do Newcastle Knights go?


It’s crazy that in a week in which Millie Boyle and Adam Elliott played in back-to-back matches on the same court, all the bathroom stall talk was centered around Kalyn Ponga and Kurt Mann.

I’d say it’s been a disastrous week for the Knights – with Enari Tuala and Bradman Best pulling out of the Raiders game for being late to the team bus, as well as everything else Ponga and Mann were doing in the bogs at the Delany – but that’s not taking into account the total shock of the previous week, David Klemmer being resigned for something that happens all the time.

Worthy of mention is the other man at the heart of the Klemmer problem, coach Hayden Knowles, who then took to social media, accusing commentators of bullying and various other online crimes at a time when he was supposed to keep a low profile.

Of course, the fortnight of failures was just the icing on the cake of a dismal season, in which the team’s finals hopes were dead and buried early, home floggings were in order, he There were several calls to the head of the coach – although it’s important to note that reporting that someone demanded that Adam O’Brien be sacked on Twitter (or worse, NRL 360) has about as much merit as what my greyhound leaves me to clean up on our evening walks – and the team seemed to have given up at various points.

Fair play to them, the Knights played on Sunday afternoon, taking the Raiders to the last game – a respectable result considering the home side were missing Ponga, Mann, Tuala, Best, Daniel Saifiti, Tyson Frizell, Leo Thompson, Jake Clifford, Mitch Barnett and Lachlan Fitzgibbon.

After what the Warriors, Broncos, Bulldogs, Sea Eagles and Tigers prepared, a team that had nothing left to play for only losing by six to a Green Machine that needed to win and win well to stay in the hunt for eights was…

No, I don’t. It was a loss. Another loss. At home. And the Knights were leading 22-8 at halftime!

So where to go for a club whose supporters were promised on the rise?

First, the issue of off-pitch discipline needs to be highlighted.

I’m disappointed that the Best and Tuala incident happened the same week as the ‘Spell in the Del’ because reporting a pair of young players for being late on the team bus was an action I I completely agreed.

The two incidents should be treated as they are – entirely separate and unrelated.

Now, I’m rotten for punctuality, so I say this with a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude, but Best and Tuala needed that lesson to drive home.

Better Bradman (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Although few people actively think about it, the message when you’re late is “my time is more important than yours.”

A minute here, a minute there, sure, some people’s clocks are a bit faster than others, but being ostentatiously late is disrespectful. And being six (maybe seven – reports vary) minutes late for a bus going to the airport? Multiply that by the number of people on said bus, which will be around 30, and the pair of young players lose around three collective hours.

So I’m all for Best and Tuala being dropped. Draw a line in the sand, start making the whole team realize that the little things matter – the way the Knights handle the big things suggests a lot of the little things get left behind.

As for Mann and Ponga? Dude, it slams.

Coming out of a bathroom stall with a drink in hand, when you’re on the long-term injured list, on a night when your teammates have just washed up in Brisbane? Every part of it stinks.

But when you take it all apart, honestly, I don’t know what the grounds for a punishment are.

Reports say the pair were at the Darby St facility around 11 p.m., a good hour and a half after their teammates finished losing to the Broncos. I suspect no one would blame the Queensland players if they had been on Caxton St for a few libations of commiseration at the same time.

Ponga and Mann are both injured but, again, the club have not banned them from drinking.

And as for what was going on in that bathroom cubicle? Honestly, when I first read “Mann and Ponga Filmed Emerging from a Toilet Stall,” my mind went to Boyle and Elliott.

We don’t know what they were doing in there is what I mean and as long as they stick to the Andre Ponga line about KP feeling sick and KM going give him a hand – maybe the two brought their drinks with them for fear of getting doped, professional athletes have to be extra careful not to use drugs – who can prove they’re lying?

Danny Buderus and Kurt Mann

Danny Buderus and Kurt Mann (Photo: Joe Frost)

I didn’t go down in the last shower. That’s not what I believe at all.

But how can the club or the NRL claim the pair deserve punishment when there is no evidence they broke the rules?

Honestly, what I described is my biggest fear. That instead of raising their hands, admitting they’re at fault, accepting the punishment that’s coming their way, and winning back the trust of their teammates – and, more importantly, long-suffering fans – through actions rather than words, they’ll claim to be victims.

“I was only a few minutes late and I got kicked out?” or “I literally did nothing (that you can prove) wrong, why am I in trouble?”

If so — especially if that’s the team captain’s attitude — the Knights are in a much deeper hole than we think.

Which brings me to the question of Ponga being skipper.

I’ll start by saying that so many who have called for his replacement have used a false equivalence to make their point.

Paul Kent, in an article titled “Why Kalyn Ponga Won’t Help the Knights Win a Premiership”, compared him unfavorably to the late great Tommy Raudonikis and his leadership of Newtown, Kent, concluding that “the great clubs are always well managed”. ”.

Cool. Except Tommy never won a premiership and ‘big club’ Newtown were left out of the top flight in 1983.

Another cracking story from Kent, as long as you don’t know the actual ending.

As for comparisons with people like James Tedesco? At Ponga’s age, Teddy was an undoubted talent who had just signed a million dollar per season contract, despite the fact that he hadn’t won anything of note and was making headlines for being hit. by his own teammate during a drunken evening.

The ‘Squid Game’ cover-up aside – Tedesco, the Roosters and the NRL should hang their heads in shame for the way it was swept under the rug – he has since become the game’s best player and Kangaroos captain pending.

But he’s also a 29-year-old who learned great leadership on a soccer team from Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend, Sonny Bill Williams and Cooper Cronk.

James Tedesco

James Tedesco (Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Long story short, Ponga is not expected to captain the Knights in the 2023 season. This year has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is not ready for that.

But to say he “won’t help the Knights win a premiership” or compare him to Tedesco at 29 rather than 24 is obviously wrong.

KP has a lot going on, but maybe give him a chance before he declares Origin 3’s Man of the Match a lost cause.

Overall, the Knights need new signings as the current team won’t win a Grand Finals.

One half must be their main concern, but for some strange reason, rumor has it that they think Tyson Gamble is the man to hunt.

You could just shake them off, couldn’t you?

A guy who can’t make Matchday 17 at a club on the verge of falling out of the eight – and where that same guy played the lion’s share of his games when they were nowhere near the final – is not the answer.

Newcastle already have Phoenix Crossland and Adam Clune on the books. Gamble is about on par with them – and has, in fact, played fewer games than Crossland and Clune, so it’s not like the junk Bronco brings experience, let alone experience the great game, at the table.

Why wait a year to replace Mitchell Pearce with something you already had before he left?

The prospect of Reuben Garrick coming to the Hunter is far more exciting for fans, although it’s only going around because Phil Rothfield got him up the mast in a way that made him sound as if a transfer deal is bubbling for the Sea Eagle sub-contract, but the article that started the rumor doesn’t even cite ‘sources close to the club’.

In short, it sounds like a Buzz mastermind that can be summed up like this: “I think the knights should hunt Garrick”.

Well, while we’ve got brain farts, here’s mine.

Newcastle must tackle the Storm’s No.6 – and no, not Cameron Munster, who will never, ever come to the Hunter when he can stay in Melbourne and keep winning or go home to Queensland and get paid more that the Knights can offer.

The other number 6 of the Storm.

Bring Nick Meaney home.

Nick Meaney takes a break

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The club’s Under-20 Player of the Year in 2016 and Reserve Player of the Year in 2017, Meaney made his first-year debut in red and blue in 2018 but had already signed for the Bulldogs because he wanted playing at fullback and Ponga was having a season at No. 1 which saw him named the RLPA Players Champion.

Basically, Meaney left for a good reason and so, I hope there were no hard feelings anyway (I mean, I have hard feelings, since Ponga’s first attempt at 6 years old went is produced from the start of Meaney and was largely a failure because the Knights had no reliable back, but maybe Nick isn’t crazy).

Three tough years at Canterbury followed, but he’s really blossoming at the Storm, showing pace, vision and power – the kind of skills the Knights must have seen as he went on to win all those club awards in the lower grades – and damn it, the guy can kick a goal.

Even better, he is currently learning in a system where nothing less than excellence is tolerated.

He’s everything the Knights need and a local junior at that.

Meaney won’t come cheap, but he won’t break the bank either. Basically he’ll get what he’s worth – which he won’t get in Melbourne, because guys like him play for the unders at the Storm – plus maybe ten per cent, because guys like him get paid after having left the Storm.

As for where he plays, bring him here and then figure out if he or KP is best suited for the 6-man team.

But bring it here – that’s the important part.

No, I’m not saying Nick Meaney is the magic bullet for Newcastle Knights. Nothing is. The joint is a total dumpster fire.

Many things, big and small, need to be fixed.

It starts this week with discipline – and how those who are disciplined respond.




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