Newcastle Knights share health update on Kalyn Ponga as superstar heads to Canada for specialist concussion treatment


Newcastle will only provide a return-to-play timeline for Kalyn Ponga once he returns from a trip to Canada, where he will seek specialist treatment for the latest in a string of concussions.

The Knights co-captain’s immediate playing future has been in serious doubt since he knocked himself out attempting a tackle early in the Round 2 win over Wests Tigers.

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The concussion was Ponga’s fourth in 10 months and provided a final push for the NRL to change its head-injury protocols, mandating an 11-day lay-off for any player who suffers a head knock.

Ponga missed the final six weeks of last season recovering from concussion, and this time around the Knights have been reluctant to put a timeline on his comeback as head-injury management remains a hot-button topic in the NRL.

While Ponga continues his recovery, the Knights have been consulting with Professor Chris Levi of the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute.

Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga looks on during the Round 2 match against Wests Tigers. Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

On Friday, the club shared the most significant update on his condition since Round 2.

Following discussions with Professor Levi, the Knights determined Ponga would fly to Canada on Friday with the club’s chief medical officer Dr Jin Lee to seek specialist treatment.

In Vancouver, Ponga will undergo testing using a device measuring brain activity that is not yet available in Australia.

Only after the Knights receive the results of these tests will the club begin considering when Ponga might make his return to the NRL.

“Management of concussion is a complex issue for everyone involved, we see this as an opportunity to gather additional information to assist Kalyn in his recovery,” Knights head of football Peter Parr said.

“Our broader aim, under the guidance of Professor Levi, is to develop a model of care that will advance our capacity in supporting players with concussion.

“Kalyn remains in good spirits and wishes to thank everyone who has enquired about his health.”

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo backed the move.

“The NRL is supportive of any positive steps taken by Clubs to optimise the clinical assessment and recovery of players diagnosed with a concussion,” he said.

“We applaud the Newcastle Knights club and the Knights Chief Medical Officer for their efforts in seeking out new technology and international expertise to assist in monitoring Kalyn Ponga’s brain activity and to guide Kalyn’s clinicians as they manage his recovery.

Newcastle’s Kalyn Ponga will visit a Canadian specialist in a bid to resolve concussion issues. Credit: AAP

“This technology is not currently available in Australia and the NRL will closely monitor the outcomes.

“The NRL and all NRL clubs are aligned in ensuring the game remains at the forefront of medical and technological advancement in these matters.”

Ponga’s trip to Canada follows similar recovery missions to the USA by rival fullbacks Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell and Ryan Papenhuyzen in the past 12 months.

All three consulted with Philadelphia-based specialist Bill Knowles in a bid to shake off long-standing leg issues.

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