Kalyn Ponga, the standout fullback for the Newcastle Knights, is facing another significant injury setback, which is expected to sideline him for 12 weeks.

Jimmy Smith has heavily criticised Ponga, as the Dally M medallist will now miss out on an Origin opportunity yet again.

Ponga sustained the foot injury during the 52nd minute of his team's substantial defeat against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Kalyn Ponga of the Knights looks dejected after losing the round 20 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Newcastle Knights at 1300SMILES Stadium on July 27, 2018 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Smith strongly criticised the Knights's decision, especially given Ponga's crucial role in the Newcastle team's hopes for this year's finals.

“Why was Kalyn Ponga on the field? What on Earth was he doing there?,” Smith said on The Jimmy Smith Show.

“We all know how important Kalyn Ponga is to that side, it's very obvious. And in fact, the more that he plays in games where he's injured or doesn't play, it becomes even more obvious.

“But it was clear from the outset that he wasn't ready to play…. Now he's picked himself up another injury.

“That's absolutely disastrous for the Newcastle Knights.”

The Knights are currently positioned 15th on the NRL ladder, and Ponga's absence could significantly affect their prospects of securing consecutive finals appearances, a feature they haven't achieved since 2003.

David Armstrong will replace him in the team this week, however, his injury has created an opportunity for Reece Walsh, who is now the prime candidate for the Queensland Maroons in this year's State of Origin.