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Newcastle Knights boss admits there's a chance Kalyn Ponga could be out for THREE MONTHS

By Dan Cancian For Daily Mail Australia and Australian Associated Press,

2023-03-15

Kalyn Ponga's latest concussion has cast a huge shadow over his immediate playing future, with the Knights admitting the head blow could keep him out for up to three months.

The Newcastle skipper was knocked out just 90 seconds into his team's 14-12 win over the Wests Tigers on Sunday.

Ponga looked to tackle Tigers forward Asu Kepaoa front on, but appeared to be out of cold as soon as his head clashed with that of the Tigers forward.

He groggily got back to his feet before being attended to by the team doctor, who eventually escorted him off the field for a head injury assessment (HIA).

The Queenslander did not return to the game and has now being ruled out because of concussion four times in the past 10 months alone.

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Last season, the 24-year-old underwent five separate HIAs and failed to return to the field on three occasions and there are growing concerns over his short-term outlook.

'I’m not really sure where it is going to go,' Knights football director Peter Parr told News Corp.

'I know he isn’t playing this week and I know I’m catching up with the doctor on Thursday.

'I couldn’t even give you a guide on where it’s going, whether it be one week, two weeks, six weeks or three months.'

The Knights have also been told they won't be able to access salary cap dispensation if they stand down their captain, but the NRL are open to introducing assistance for clubs with concussed players from next season.

The NRL currently offer dispensation for clubs who lose players to injuries in representative matches, as well as while players are stood down under the no-fault policy.

No such dispensations are available for long-term concussions.

It means if Newcastle are to stand Ponga down for an extended period to aid his recovery, they will leave $1.4 million of their salary cap on the sidelines.

'The salary cap auditor has provisions within his remit to look at career-ending injuries, and also can look at long-term injuries as well,' said NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.

'Any type of dispensation would need to be handled case-by-case by the salary cap auditor within the rules.'

Meanwhile, the NRL is considering ramping up its concussion protocols further with saliva and blood testing after introducing a mandatory 11-day stand down for players after brain injuries.

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The ARL Commission confirmed the most significant changes to its concussion policy in almost a decade on Wednesday, declaring player safety is the game's No.1 priority.

Under the new rules, which come into effect from Thursday, players who have been diagnosed with a concussion will be automatically stood down from contact training or playing for an 11-day period.

That will mean they are guaranteed to miss the following weekend's match, and potentially a second game depending on turnaround times.

Players will only be able to return sooner in exceptional circumstances, and after approval from an NRL-appointed independent neurologist.

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