NRL Physio's message to Andrew Johns after fan backlash over Kalyn Ponga comments

The Newcastle Knights legend drew the ire of fans with his remarks about the fullback's injury.

He caused a social media meltdown by playing doctor with Kalyn Ponga's hip injury, but NRL great Andrew Johns has been urged by a leading medico to continue with his controversial on-air "Dr Joey" diagnoses. Johns drew the wrath of fans last week with his incessant demands to have Ponga replaced after the Knights superstar suffered a hip pointer injury and appeared to be badly inconvenienced.

Johns, who has a reputation for diagnosing players' injuries on the run, declared the fullback "gone" on several occasions. Johns went into overdrive after Ponga winced in pain after passing the ball early in the second half.

Andrew Johns and Kalyn Ponga.
Andrew Johns copped backlash for his commentary around Kalyn Ponga and his injury. Image: Getty

"Surely someone has to make the decision about Kalyn Ponga and get him off the field," he said in commentary on Channel 9. "The decision has to be taken off the player."

But almost as soon as Johns called for Ponga's departure, the brilliant No.1's half-time painkillers kicked in and he produced several slashing runs as the Knights fell just short of toppling the Roosters. Coach Adam O'Brien said after the game: "He's very sore. It was a remarkable job, what he's done for us. He's brave, tough – no-one can ever question that kid's toughness. I'm amazed."

Andrew Johns, pictured here during an NRL game.
Andrew Johns looks on during commentary for an NRL game.

NRL Physio Brien Seeney wants more eductaion for commentators

Johns was big enough to admit he got in wrong but that didn’t stop the pile on from fans. Physio and injury analyst Brien Seeney, whose influential social media account has close to 50,000 followers, doesn’t blame the 'eighth immortal' for having a punt on injuries during live commentary.


And he wants it to continue. But he believes former players need to build their knowledge so they're armed with as much information as possible before making definite calls.

"Injuries are such an influential part of footy, so the commentators obviously have to address them," Seeney told Yahoo Sport Australia. "But I think it’s clear that fans are really interested in accurate and easy to understand information surrounding injuries. Ex-players on commentary will have their own personal experiences when it comes to injuries, but it’s an area where educating themselves a bit more would improve the fan and viewer experience for sure."

Asked if it would help to have a medical expert involved in the coverage, Seeney said: "In an ideal world it would be great to have an expert on hand. But it’s pretty tough to provide analysis on injury situations and remain accurate in real time, so it wouldn’t be a simple solution."

Newcastle have selected Ponga in its side to play Canterbury at Accor Stadum on Sunday. But the Knights will continue to monitor his fitness over the next few days.