NRLKalyn Ponga throws a scare through the Knights camp but still a likely starter against the Cowboys in Townsville

Knightsofficials are confident a training mishapwon’t prevent boom fullback Kalyn Ponga from making his much anticipated return from injury against his former club North Queensland in Townsville on Friday night.
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Due back from a hamstring injury that saw him miss consecutive wins over Parramatta and Gold Coast, Ponga hadcoaching staff and teammates collectively holding their breath on Tuesday after he rolled his ankle during a field session.

Ponga came down awkwardly after leaping high to bring down a Mitchell Pearce bomb during an opposed session and required treatment on the ground.

After a few minutes, he gingerly walked off for further treatment and did not complete the session.

Pongawas later seen walkingaround with his ankle strapped but was not in a moon boot with the injury highly unlikely to keep him out of the Cowboys game.

Immediately after the training session, coach Nathan Brown did not appear overly concerned.

Kalyn Ponga

“His hamstring is fine, but he rolled his ankle a bit so it’s a bit more precautionary. I’mnot sure what the situation is with it,” Brown said.

“He’s running freely. The main thing is his hamstring is good so that’s the pleasing thing. We just have to see how his foot is.

“Hopefully, it’s only a minor thing.”

Later in the day, the Knightsnamed Ponga at fullback but his stand-in over the past fortnight, Nick Meaney, will travel with the squad to Townsville on Wednesday as a precaution.

Young playmaker Jack Cogger will also travel with the squad to Townsville on standby should five-eighth Connor Watson be ruled out.

Watson was also named but is battlinga chronic ankle problem that flared up afterthe Knights win over the Titans last weekend.

It is understood he had a cortisone injection earlier in the week and did not train with the rest of the squad on Tuesday.

“We are not sure with Connor–he’s a bit touch and go at the moment,” Brown said.

“He’s got a bit of a slight issue. Coggs [Cogger] played with Mitchell against the Tigers and did very well and I’ve always wanted to give Coggs another shot with Mitchell if the opportunity came.

“It might come this week or it might not–we’ll know more with Connor tomorrow.”

Knights co-captainPearce admitted there was plenty of initial concern when Ponga did not get straight back up after catching his bomb.

READ MORE: Newcastle Knights“We definitely got a scare so hopefully it’s only just a bit of a sprained ankle and he’ll be right for this week,” hesaid.

Pearce said he is looking forward to the prospect of joining forces on the field with Ponga again.

“I’m really excited. It was awesome fun playing with Kalyn at the start of the year,” he said.

“He’sobviously a brilliant player and makes your job easier as a halfback so I’m really excited for getting back and hopefully, getting some combinations going.

“So hopefully,he plays but if he doesn’t, he’ll be there the week after.”

Pearce said the possibility of losing both Ponga and Watsonwould not change his side’s approach to the game.

“If they don’t play, I’m sure there are other guys that are going to fillthat role and we’ll attack the game the same way as we were going to in the first place,”he said.

In a boost to the Knights, centre Sione Mata’utia is considered a certain starter after missing the win over the Ttians with a fractured eye-socket.

His return has forced a backline reshuffle with right winger Nathan Ross shifting back to left centre at the expense of youngster Cory Denniss, who drops out of the 17.

Despite the Cowboys’ dismal run this season,Brown expects his side to face a major challenge led by the retiring Johnathan Thurston.

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