Knights coach Adam O’Brien has revealed Kalyn Ponga will make a everlasting change to the halves this season whereas hinting at a three-way battle for his vacant fullback spot.
Talking on SEN 1170 Breakfast on Tuesday, O’Brien mentioned the choice to maneuver Ponga to five-eighth was made after he was dominated out within the latter phases of final season following a number of concussions.
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“If we have been ever going to maneuver Kalyn to 6, now’s the time,” O’Brien mentioned.
“Basically, we’ve had 5 months. He had a really temporary break in October after which began coaching earlier than everybody else. We modified his coaching program and he’s clearly put some measurement on within the gymnasium.
“He’s been coaching at six all summer season and he has been doing a very good job at it.”
Whereas there isn’t a assure it is going to be a hit, Knights followers can at the least take consolation within the reality O’Brien is open to making an attempt one thing completely different after a disappointing 2022 marketing campaign.
Newcastle managed simply the six wins final season, ending in 14th place and no clearer to figuring out what its long-term backbone appeared like.
Mitchell Pearce’s departure left a major management void, one which the Knights will likely be hoping new recruit Jackson Hastings may also help fill.
Hastings will companion Ponga within the halves, with O’Brien assured that he’ll make his new teammate’s transition to the halves “a lot simpler”.
“He’s positively a footy head,” O’Brien mentioned.
“He is aware of the sport properly and he’s a normal. He’ll steer the staff round, he’s very vocal and he’s very clear about what he needs these to do round him.
“That enables Kalyn to be himself and doesn’t lavatory him down with plenty of accountability of being a director.
“On the finish of the day you need Jackson to steer the staff round and get Kalyn the ball within the house that we have to get him in. They’re working very well collectively in the intervening time.”
The massive query that wants answering now although is who will line up at fullback in Ponga’s place, with English addition Bailey Hodgson the main contender.
O’Brien although mentioned Dane Gagai and Tyson Gamble had additionally “spent a while” coaching at fullback together with Hodgson, who has been there “a lot of the summer season”.
“Strengthening that fullback spot stays a precedence for us,” added O’Brien.
There will likely be loads of strain on O’Brien after final 12 months’s let-down however the Knights coach mentioned each he as a person and the membership as an entire can take loads of classes out of 2022.
“While it wasn’t pleasurable for anybody — the gamers, workers, supporters — upon reflection over the summer season trying again over that season I learnt lots,” he mentioned.
“Hopefully at some point you’re trying again at it and saying we made higher or smarter choices having gone by way of that sort of season.
“I don’t need to do this once more… however on the similar time you begin to analyse issues just a little bit in a different way and make higher choices in and round recruitment, the way you put together every week and the way you deal with adversity.”
Initially revealed as ‘Now could be the time’: Knights coach confirms large Kalyn Ponga change