AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 10: Kalyn Ponga of the Knights looks on during warmup prior to the round 22 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights at Mt Smart Stadium on August 10, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

The NRL is said to be considering the introduction of hair follicle drug testing for the future in the aftermath of the Kalyn Ponga-Kurt Mann video.

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.

NRL Rd 10  - Rabbitohs v Knights
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: Kurt Mann of the Knights passes the ball during the round 10 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Newcastle Knights at Bankwest Stadium on July 18, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

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.

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.


  1. If it were a St George, Tigers, Warriors or Titan’s player they would be gone. The father’s story is so laughable NRL will be a joke if they do not follow this through.

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