NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 07: Kalyn Ponga of the Newcastle Knights warms up during the round four NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the St George Illawarra Dragons at McDonald Jones Stadium on April 07, 2019 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Despite being ruled out for the remainder of the NRL season thanks to a number of concussion issues, Newcastle Knights and Queensland fullback Kalyn Ponga has returned to the training paddock this week.

The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed Ponga’s return to the field is part of his strategy to play for Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos squad at the end-of-year World Cup in England.

Ponga has consulted with Dr Chris Levi, the same neurologist to have treated Boyd Cordner and a number of other prolific NRL players who’ve experienced multiple head-knocks.

The Newcastle fullback has come from the field a total of five times in 2022 thanks to head injuries, and has been unable to return for a number of those after failing HIA’s.

Though Levi wouldn’t speak specifically on Ponga, he did talk at large about the variables surrounding these issues.

“In general situations of multiple concussions, longer periods of about six to eight weeks (rest) are recommended,” Levi told the Herald.

“There’s huge variability in the severity of concussions. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.”

Provided Ponga can continue to avoid post-concussive symptoms, Levi believes using the World Cup as a planned return date is conservative, which should help Ponga’s recovery.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 22: Kalyn Ponga of the Knights receives attention after being tackled high by Matthew Lodge of the Roosters during the round 19 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Sydney Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium, on July 22, 2022, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“The construct of the decision-making process is doctor and patient, and the recommendation is a joint consensus position.”

“The most important thing is that the person’s mental health, wellbeing, morale and sense of purpose are supported.”

Ponga’s planned return could offer a big boost to Meninga, who has recently faced a mass exodus of talent from Kangaroos candidates who have opted to represent their nations of heritage instead.

Jarome Luai and Josh Papalii have led the charge for Samoa’s dreams of international growth like the Tongan team, while even Luke Keary has professed his desire to play for second-tier nation Ireland. Valentine Holmes also made headlines this week, revealing he may opt to play for the Cook Islands instead of Meninga’s Kangaroos team.

Ponga's return comes at a bad time for the club, with Adam O'Brien under pressure, accusations of racism towards junior players and the protracted saga involving David Klemmer's on-field outburst all dominating the news cycle this past week.