Ponga’s head-knock horror
Rising superstar relives the skull fracture that laid him low
HE’S THE TEENAGE SUPERSTAR WHO ALMOST never was.
Kalyn Ponga showed he was up to all the hype at the Auckland Nines last weekend, wowing the fans with his fast-stepping skills and justifying the huge fee the Knights paid for him.
But the 18-year-old admitted to RLW that his career could have ended two years ago after a shocking head knock – a blow so severe that he’s had to wear headgear ever since.
“I was playing in a schoolboy game and got a really bad injury to the head. I ended up in hospital for a week and the doctors and my family were pretty concerned,” Ponga reveals.
“I suffered a hairline fracture of the skull and it took me a long time to get over.
“After the week in hospital I spent over a month at home and my head was pretty sore.
“There was some talk of giving it away but once the doctors gave me the all clear, I was always going to play again.
“I had to take a good long break, and it took me a while to get my confidence back. “But it’s in the past now – I don’t even think about it.” Many believe Ponga wears his headgear as a tribute to his idol and Cowboys team-mate Johnathan Thurston. He begs to differ.
“Nah, that’s not it… I just don’t want to go through that kind of injury again – and the headgear helps my confidence,” Ponga explains.
The Cowboys are rueing the fact they have lost the winger/ fullback for 2018 but aim to make the most of his special skills this season.
“He’s a gun player – someone very special for just a kid,” star utility Michael Morgan says.
“It’s a pity he won’t be with us long term but I can see him playing a big role for us this season.
“He had a great off-season training with the big boys and he showed some amazing touches at the Nines.
“He’s very mature for an 18-year-old, and strong, and will continue to develop.”
Ponga, who made his NRL debut in last year’s finals, loved running around alongside the likes of Thurston, Morgan and Kyle Feldt.
“The experienced boys were great for me and really helped my game.
“They have been there and done that and I am still new to it all.”
“There was some talk of giving the game away”
HOT STEPPER! Ponga scored five tries with his freakish footwork and sheer pace at the Auckland Nines.