PRIDE OF NEDDIES

The West Australian - - INSIDE COVER -

Last week in The Week­end West, our col­league Steve But­ler told the fas­ci­nat­ing back­story of Queensland Ori­gin star Ka­lyn Ponga.

Long be­fore he was a league su­per­star on a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar con­tract, Ponga was a WA kid — born in Port Hed­land, no less.

Sure, his fam­ily might have left New­man for Mt Isa in Queensland when he was just two years old but you know what they say: You can take the kid out of WA but you can’t take WA out of the kid.

Now we’ve es­tab­lished our claim on Ka­lyn, let’s turn our at­ten­tion to his old man, An­dre, a Kiwi who first came to WA in 1989 to pur­sue a rugby union dream play­ing for Ned­lands.

That lit­tle nugget of info was men­tioned in But­ler’s yarn and did not go un­no­ticed by the lads down at Neddies.

Hav­ing made the Perth club rugby finals for 35 con­sec­u­tive sea­sons, Neddies is a proud club, and now has a new source of pride.

“It ap­pears the club has a new favourite son in An­dre Ponga — fa­ther of Queensland State of Ori­gin rugby league sen­sa­tion Ka­lyn,” a Neddies source said. While the ex­act de­tails of An­dre’s time at Ned­lands have been lost in the mists of time, there is some doubt over whether he was in Neddies’ 1st XV.

“An­dre would have needed his son’s fancy foot­work to make the 1989 Neddies premier grade team, which rates as the club’s finest ever, in­clud­ing two former All Blacks in Paul “Bam Bam” Koteka and Mur­ray Watts,” our source re­vealed.

An­dre told The Week­end West there would be up to 100 Ponga fam­ily mem­bers in town for the in­au­gu­ral Op­tus Sta­dium State of Ori­gin bat­tle on June 23 and Neddies has in­vited the lot down to the club Thurs­day week for “steak night”.

“Word has it club pres­i­dent Bob Somerville is even pre­pared to let An­dre draw the meat raf­fle,” our source said.

An­dre and Ka­lyn.

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