SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 18: Matt Moylan of the Sharks leaves the field after been replaced during the round 22 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Shark Park on August 18, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

For me, like most NRL fans, 2022 cannot come quickly enough.

For some coaches though, they need every day (and then some) to make the decisions that will shape their club's future.

With positions in the eight at a premium, the smallest of decisions can alter a team's season. We've seen it recently with coaches reluctant to make changes, only for fortunes to improve when a difficult call was finally made.

There are a host of big decisions to be made before Round 1 next season. Below are the five I believe will need to be made ASAP and stand to have a huge bearing on early season results.

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5. Ponga into the Halves?

I honestly thought the Kalyn Ponga experiment was done. Then the Knights released Mitchell Pearce without a Plan B.

We all expected Luke Brooks to finally complete a move away from the club, which I still maintain would benefit everyone involved, but the Tigers are standing their ground.

Here we are again, two seasons after a horror, failed experiment that saw Ponga stink it up in the halves, to give it another try.

Ponga is a class fullback but there's definitely a line of thinking that he needs to be more involved, especially now that Pearce has left the club.

It's not hyperbolic to suggest that Newcastle's season relies heavily on Ponga's ability to adapt to his supposed new role, or the Knights to provide a star option at six.

KALYN PONGA
Fullback
Knights
2021 SEASON AVG
0.5
Tries
0.9
Try Assists
4.8
Tackle Breaks

Jake Clifford is a brilliant young talent but it's a bit rich to sign the kid (he's still only 23) and throw in a rookie half option and say "take us to the finals".

If Newcastle can't sign Brooks then their hand may be forced. Has Ponga got it in him? Does he even want to move into the halves?

Adam O'Brien has a huge question to answer. The result of his decision may very well decide the future of both the Knights and O'Brien himself.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry I’ve seen nothing from Cody Ramsey to see him as first grade material let alone fb material. His defence is every bit as bad as Dufty’s, his handling is atrocious, he dropped so many bombs and conceded us so many tries this season it was embarrassing. Also his passing game is weak and he simply did not make up for any of this by scoring a lot of tries. Ramsey should be our fourth choice winger after Ravalawa, and the Fegai’s. Sloan showed more promise in his few games at fb than Ramsey did all year on the wing.

    Alas Griffin is clueless and Ramsey will no doubt get the #1 slot and we’ll end up releasing Sloan and Amone.

  2. I agree with Mr Majestyk about Cody Ramsey for exactly the same reasons PLUS he cannot tackle……the guy is an out and out dud whereas Sloane is an up & coming superstar – no doubt about that – if Hook gives Ramsey a start in the Top 17 – let alone fullback – then Hook has to get the Hook!!

  3. Potential Sharks halves: Trindall, Moylan and Hynes. If only it were that simple. Potentially, the best of the lot is Luke Metcalf. Unfortunately, they have not promoted him to a top30 spot, and are seemingly unlikely to do so before the middle of the season. If I were the coach, I would get him into the top 30 now (somehow) and make him a starting half – telling the others they will have to fit in as injury demands.

    Or if that is too hard, and Craig Fitzgibbon has no intention of using him, approach Newcastle and offer him – for a transfer fee – for 12 months, until he goes to Auckland.

  4. … or better still, approach the Warriors and see if they want Metcalf a year early – for a transfer fee, of course. Then the Warriors could give Ash Taylor the punt (to Newcastle, perhaps) and have Johnson, Harris-Tevita and Metcalf to provide quality in depth for their spine.

Comments are closed.