KNIGHTS skipper Kalyn Ponga has been ruled out of Friday's desperation-stakes clash with Gold Coast Titans because of the head knock he suffered in Origin II on Sunday night.
The Queensland fullback was replaced after a high shot by Nathan Cleary with 10 minutes to play in NSW's landslide 44-12 triumph at Perth's Optus Stadium.
He was reported to have suffered a category-one concussion, and according to the Knights' website: "Category-one protocols require Ponga to sit out for a seven-day period, meaning he will be unavailable for the match against the Titans."
It was Ponga's second concussion in the space of two weeks, after he was also knocked senseless and replaced early in their 42-6 loss to Penrith on June 12.
He also required head-injury assessments during Newcastle's losses to Manly and Parramatta earlier in the season but was allowed to return to those games.
"He's obviously copped a bit of a shot there to the head when he was hitting the ground," Queensland coach Billy Slater said after Sunday's defeat.
"He staggered on the field so he came straight off. We made sure he came straight off and made sure he was OK ... in the sheds he seems fine but the doctors will assess him."
Ponga's absence leaves Knights coach Adam O'Brien with a selection headache before the clash with the last-placed Titans.
The leading candidate to replace Ponga would appear to be Tex Hoy.
Alternatively, the coach could switch Anthony Milford to fullback and reunite Adam Clune and Jake Clifford in the halves.
The Knights need a win on Friday to keep their miniscule finals hopes alive.
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