From the infamous “strawberry thickshake” to a battle with consistency, 2019 wasn’t Kalyn Ponga’s best year last season and the Knights superstar knows it. The challenge now is to come back better.
In a career already filled with plenty of highlight reel moments Kalyn Ponga says last year isn’t one to remember.
At just 21, Ponga’s career is still in its infancy. But after starring for Newcastle in his first season at the club in 2018, he struggled to maintain that consistency last year.
There were still plenty of big moments for Ponga but it was plagued by a Knights side who imploded in the back half of the year and with his flippant “strawberry thickshake” comment following Nathan Brown’s axing.
Ponga said he learnt “lots of lessons” of out 2019.
“I learnt a lot of things,” Ponga said. “It was a year I don’t want to look back on too much. (I have to) grab a lot of good things out of it and move on.
“Don’t get complicated. I don’t know what the recipe was. We went through a stage where we were winning but then we weren’t. I don’t know if it was complacency or not. It’s a good reminder not to do that and to work hard and strive to be better.”
Ponga learnt to deal with expectations on and off the field.
“I didn’t mind it,” Ponga said. “It was good and bad. The bad wasn’t so bad at the end of the day. I’m going to learn from it.”
New coach Adam O’Brien has already made an impact on the Knights playing group. He has committed to Ponga staying in the fullback role and the No. 1 said the group had been worked harder ahead of this season.
“Something has got to change,” Ponga said. “We’ll figure it out as a team. We want to win more games.
“It’s been tough. It’s been one of the hardest one I’ve done. I’ve enjoyed it. Finding that balance is always good.
“The intensity (has been the biggest difference). The boys came back in better shape so it allowed us to get faster, earlier. The intensity of everything has lifted.”