The Newcastle Knights boss has revealed the real reason why the club endured a nightmarish start to the season.
Kalyn Ponga’s contract saga was almost enough to overshadow the fact that the Knights are the worst team in the NRL right now. Almost.
The superstar full-back’s hot and cold form and a disastrous injury crisis have the club on a bewildering seven-game losing streak.
The club’s chief executive, Phil Gardner, has now spoken publicly to outline where the club is heading and how he found himself in such a mess.
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the the contractual situation with Ponga has become a “farce” after reports, the Knights at one point withdrew a three-year extension offer from the table due to the fact that Ponga’s father, Andre, wished authority over when the new deal would be publicly announced.
However, Gardner’s latest revelations in an interview withThe Sydney Morning Herald shows that the real problem of the club is that a bet on the roster has exploded in his face.
Gardner confirmed that the club was fully aware of his lack of depth in key player positions that he risked being fully exposed in the event of injuries.
This is exactly what happened.
It all started with Mitchell Pearce’s request to be released from his contract to move to France.
The Knights were unable to strike a deal to bring Luke Brooks to the club, despite the Tigers’ half having requested a release and making public comments that he was interested in working with Newcastle director’s consultant Andrew Johns.
Gardner now says the club has changed tactics to focus more on prostitute Jayden Brailey.
Then when the n. 9 suffered an achilles tendon rupture during preseason training. Newcastle’s worst nightmare had come true.
The bet has clearly exploded in the face of the club.
“The problem for us isn’t just the problem with Mitchell. Jayden Brailey had his Achilles tendon before the season started, ”Gardner said.
“Andrew Johns came to help us in a consulting role to work with our other halves and in that situation we relied heavily on Jayden Brailey on how we were going to play given the situation with Mitch.
“We knew, and we signaled early when we let Mitchell Pearce go, that this season would be prone to injuries, that depth was going to be an issue.
“Unfortunately it happened. We’ll get the troops back in a few weeks and you’ll see another Knight. “
The club’s injury crisis has included Dane Gagai, Daniel Saifiti and midfielder Adam Clune at various times. Newcastle have been forced in some games this season to run with an improvised half of Phoenix Crossland and Tex Hoy.
Meanwhile, Gardner has also opened “robust” contract negotiations with Andre Ponga.
He confirmed critical news that Ponga’s five-year contract extension does not include “option” clauses that would allow him to explore other agreements.
“Those negotiations were very solid, but they were conducted in the best way, with the best of intentions and we got the right result,” Gardner said. The herald.
“The whole circus surrounding the players now, regardless of their contractual status, really challenges the mental strength of the players. We are seeing the same thing played out. [Cameron] Munster – has a contract with the Storm until ’23 but is a consistent speculation as to where he will be. And he is performing on a team that is doing very well, yet he feels the pressure.
“KP did a fantastic job dealing with the pressure of the situation. He showed why we made him captain. “
We were called in following the club’s humiliating defeat to Parramatta for Ponga to step down as skipper.
He was also criticized for a post-match interview after the game where he said “there wasn’t much” he would tell the team after the defeat.
Originally published as Newcastle gambled and exploded in their face