This video showed the two Newcastle Knights players leaving a toilet cubicle together at the request of a security guard. Ponga’s father Andre has come out since the release of the video in an attempt to dispel any suggestion the pair were using recreational drugs.
“(Kalyn) made an exciting house purchase on Sunday and celebrated with a few mates drinking,” the elder Ponga told the Daily Telegraph.
“He was sick in the toilet and his mate went in to help him.”
Despite the story given by those involved, the Knights are now investigating the incident. Though there was no suggestion the duo were engaging in drug use, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the footage may be enough for the NRL to target-test them under the game’s illicit drugs policy, with some officials calling for the more comprehensive testing method to be introduced.
Urine testing can typically only detect illicit drugs for a period of around 48 hours, but hair testing can deliver accurate substance detection for months after ingestion.
But such a significant change in testing policy would need to be approved by clubs as well as the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA), which means it’s unlikely any change would come rapidly.
The two players didn’t travel with the team to take on Brisbane as they’re both injured. Though Ponga is currently sidelined following a number of significant head-knocks, it’s been confirmed that he was never advised by medical staff not to drink throughout his recovery.
New football manager Peter Parr has addressed the issue on Tuesday morning, claiming that both players told him they weren’t doing drugs, and deciding to take them at their words.
Knights football manager Peter Parr says he has to ‘keep an open mind,’ about whether or not Ponga and Mann were doing drugs. He says they’ve told him they weren’t, and he has to take them at their word. Also says no Knights medical staff instructed Ponga not to drink.
— cody kaye (@Cody_KayeFOX) August 16, 2022
It’s another chapter in a chaotic end to a disastrous season for the Knights, who’ve frequented the news in recent weeks following David Klemmer’s punishment for his outburst at a trainer, the incident with Ponga and Mann and now the news that Bradman Best and Enari Tuala stood down for breaching team protocol.
They’ll be looking to put all that behind them when they host the Raiders on Sunday afternoon. Kick-off is at 4.05pm.