The Knights are training in Tamworth and O’Brien said the time away as a group had been a boost.
“Our meetings at night are crucial to connect the team up with some goal setting,” O’Brien said. “Irrelevant of what sort of happened over Christmas, it’s always a good time to get the team away and connected.”
The camp will also be a chance for O’Brien to choose a new captain. David Klemmer is the hot favourite to take the job.
O’Brien said the Tamworth camp was “part of the process” of finding the most suitable player.
“It’ll be a few weeks away yet [a decision on the captaincy], I want to go through a thorough process,” he said.
“I didn’t want the distraction to fasten that process up. I believe that it’s the right process, even before Mitchell decided to stand down, so I’ll continue on that path.”
The focus has turned to Ponga, who is in doubt for the start of the season due to a shoulder injury.
Ponga had a shoulder reconstruction in October 2020 after playing through a labrum tear late in the season. The injury has a three- to six-month recovery time.
O’Brien said Ponga was working “extremely hard” to get fit and had a consultancy last week with a specialist.
“He’s more than on track,” the coach said. “We just want to continually see progress every day. And that’s what we’re getting.”
Ponga is an unlikely starter for the 2021 season with no “definitive date” for his return.
“We don’t expect it to be too long into the season,” O’Brien said. “But I’m not going to put pressure on both staff and Kalyn by naming a date just yet.”
Ponga’s no.1 jersey will likely be replaced by 21-year-old Tex Hoy.
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Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Thanks for stopping by and reading this news release about League news titled “Kalyn Ponga unlikely to make round one return for Newcastle Knights as coach says team ‘connecting’ after Mitchell Pearce incident”. This news release was posted by My Local Pages Australia as part of our Australian news services.
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