Kalyn Ponga toilet cubicle press conference: Newcastle Knights break silence, punishments, NRL Integrity Unit, Peter Parr
Newcastle Knights director of football Peter Parr has spoken out about the Kalyn Ponga and Kurt Mann toilet cubicle video, saying it was “not pretty”.
The vision of Ponga and teammate Kurt Mann being kicked out of a bathroom stall quickly spread across the internet and media on Monday.
The Knights reportedly launched an investigation into the scene as the pair left the stand holding drinks.
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Parr declined to comment on specifics of the issue as he revealed at a press conference that the club had referred the matter to the NRL’s Integrity Unit.
He said the club will support the integrity unit in whatever they need.
“We haven’t discussed a punishment yet because we don’t know if there’s a punishment to be had,” he said.
“We’re going to run the process, figure out exactly what happened or didn’t happen, and then make decisions. We do not have to make a decision on this yet because the process is not yet finalized.
“Like I said, we don’t even know if a punishment is necessary.”
Parr confirmed that Ponga had not been told by medical staff not to drink and “we have not yet established exactly how much he had”.
When asked if it was too soon to know whether Ponga would remain captain of the club, Parr replied that it was “far too early for that”.
However, after a bumpy few weeks following the David Klemmer furor and with the Knights in 14th on the NRL ladder, Parr admitted that was not what the club needed.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a great look, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s not very pretty, but all the facts are not yet established. So let’s wait for the process to be completed, the integrity unit, do what it needs to do. We will cooperate with them and then we will make decisions if necessary.
“Just because it’s not pretty doesn’t immediately mean someone did something wrong. So let the process take its course and we’ll see what happens after that.
Parr said the club struggled with his leadership
“I think there’s been a lack of leadership around the playgroup and it’s not all about them,” Parr said. “Just because you’re a young band. And just because you make someone a leader or put them in a position of leadership doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to grab leadership immediately.
“It could be an education process. The club, the coaching staff, everyone has a role to play in educating the players in this facet.
“I worked with the captain for a long time in my previous job, and he was appointed very young and he had a few bumps in the road early on and I think everyone will agree that he became one of the best leaders in the game.
“I have some sympathy for young people who are pushed into leadership roles and who don’t always get it right. And it is up to us to help and educate them.
The captain Parr was referring to was Johnathan Thurston of the North Queensland Cowboys, where Parr worked from 2001 until August 1 this year.
Parr also revealed that Bradman Best and Enari Tuala “pulled out” for this weekend’s game for “not meeting team standards” after being late for the team bus.
The press conference took place following the broadcast of the four-second video on social media.
“Oh, that’s a surprise,” the security guard was heard saying after spotting the footballer.
Ponga’s father, Andre, told the News Corp publication that the Newcastle duo were in the toilet together due to illness after celebrating the purchase of a new property.
“He had an exciting house purchase on Saturday and celebrated with a few drinking friends,” he said.
“Sick in the toilet and his companion came in to help him.”
Both players are currently on the injured list.
Ponga confirmed on Sunday that his season was over due to concussion protocols after sustaining a concussion for the third time in six weeks in the Knights’ Round 19 matchup against the Roosters.
“I would be nice for the last round, but with no contact for the year, it would probably be wise not to play the last round,” Ponga said.
“My season is over. It’s a bit weird. I feel good now. At first I felt a little weird, headaches and all, but I feel good now.
“It’s just difficult. I feel good. I feel fit. I want to play but I guess I’m just following protocols at the moment.
“It’s hard. I feel soft. There’s nothing wrong with me.
“I don’t feel anything but I just have to trust the process ahead of me.”
Mann is recovering from a quadriceps injury and is expected to return for the final game of the season.
But on NRL 360 On Monday night, Braith Anasta and Fox Sports reporter James Hooper weren’t sold on Ponga’s father’s excuse.
“We may have to release Pinocchio again, we don’t believe in this fairy tale, do we?” Hooper said on NRL 360.
“It’s not often you go to the bathroom with a mate to vomit, is it,” Anasta said.
Hooper added, “They both go out with bourbon and cokes. It’s a bad scene.
Phil Rothfield said he believed Ponga could be stripped of his captaincy due to the drama.
“It’s a really bad image and I know the Knights are really concerned about the public relations side, the cultural side,” Rothfield said.
“Do you know how serious I think it is, I think he will be stripped of his captaincy.”
On Triple M on Tuesday morning, Penrith great Mark Geyer denounced the “worms” filming these scenes.
But he also called on the couple to acknowledge what had happened.
“If you did something wrong, come out and admit it,” Geyer said.
“We are quite humble people who listen and watch rugby league, we ask for honesty.
“As soon as you start the honesty process, the healing process will start right after that. But as long as you hang around, more people get intrigued, more people ask questions, more people want to know.
“Whatever happened in that cabin, they need to let all of us know and they need to let all of us know and they need to say it honestly.”
Geyer said he shouldn’t be stripped of the captaincy, but the excuse “doesn’t pass the pub test”.