Ponga latest victim of Magic Round curse

Kalyn Ponga will miss Newcastle's next two NRL matches through injury.
Kalyn Ponga will miss Newcastle's next two NRL matches through injury.

Kalyn Ponga has become the latest player to fall victim to the NRL's Magic Round curse, with the Newcastle superstar ruled out with a groin injury.

The Knights confirmed on Thursday morning that Ponga is expected to miss at least the next two weeks with an adductor issue, with Tex Hoy to play fullback.

Ponga's absence against Wests Tigers makes him the fifth player to feature in the NRL's promotional ad for the Brisbane extravaganza only to be unavailable.

Gold Coast star David Fifita was ruled out on Tuesday when he was banned at the NRL judiciary, while Canberra winger Jordan Rapana is out with a hamstring injury.

The Warriors' David Fusitu'a is sidelined with a hamstring issue and North Queensland flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has had ankle surgery.

South Sydney half Adam Reynolds - who opens the ad - is hoping to be beat a thumb injury and play, while Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen is listed on an extended bench.

Ponga's injury, meanwhile, represents a significant blow for the Knights.

The 23-year-old experienced groin tightness after last weekend's win over Canberra, and the Knights are keen to take a cautious approach with their No.1.

"At this stage it's a minor tear ... we're not willing to push him because we don't want it to turn anything more sinister," coach Adam O'Brien said.

"It's the right thing to do with Kalyn and the club.

"In the game against the Raiders he was outstanding along with the rest of the spine. That's the disappointing thing.

"But Tex has trained with the spine all week."

Ponga missed four weeks at the start of the season, but at least at that point halfback Mitchell Pearce was in the side.

The veteran halfback is now out until at least round 14 due to a pectoral injury, while Blake Green is missing with a rib blow.

Ponga's injury comes less than a month out from State of Origin.

While there are no concerns about his Queensland availability the Knights are bracing for more games without him over the middle stage of the season.

"We're getting used to this now, we've had a few changes in the spine," O'Brien said.

"We're more than one player. Yes he (Ponga) is a big part of our team but we have been through this stuff before.

"It's about the next man up and it won't be an excuse for us this weekend."


Kotoni Staggs, Jarrod Croker, Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine, Ryan Sutton, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dylan Napa, Josh Jackson, Corey Allan, Shaun Johnson, David Fifita, Harry Grant, Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga, Mitchell Pearce, Dylan Brown, Kurt Capewell, Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Murray, Boyd Cordner, Luke Keary, Brett Morris, Lindsay Collins, Addin Fonua-Blake, David Fusitu'a, Peta Hiku, James Roberts.

Australian Associated Press