NRL news 2023: Kalyn Ponga Dally M medal win nearly went horribly wrong

Kalyn Ponga is the toast of the NRL world after his Dally M Medal win, widely lauded and splashed on the front and back pages of newspapers after his extraordinary comeback.

Ponga famously considered retiring from the sport after a series of concussions, but bounced back to claim a surprise medal win on Wednesday night.

Watch The NRL Women’s Premiership Grand Final Live on Kayo Sports. Newcastle Knights vs Gold Coast Titans SUN 1 OCT 3:55PM AEDT. Join Kayo now and start streaming instantly >

His six points for the Knights’ round 27 victory over the Dragons allowed Ponga to pip the favourite, Shaun Johnson, by a single vote.

But Ponga admitted on Thursday morning the NRL may have had an extremely awkward situation on its hands during the ceremony.

The reason? Ponga really didn’t want to go to the awards night.

And it wasn’t just a momentary lack of interest or enthusiasm, the 25-year-old actually contacted the league to clearly state he did not want to go.

“I wasn’t going to go to the Dally M’s, to be honest,” Ponga said on 2DAY FM’s Hughesy, Ed & Erin radio show.

“I actually sent the NRL an email that morning to say that I just don’t want to go.

“I’ve been in the media a lot the last few years, I just wanted to sit back and watch it at home and they said that I had to go.”

Now you might be thinking Ponga hearing that sort of news could have given him the impression there was an actual reason why he had to go, like he could be in the running for the night’s top honour.

The only problem there is that the exact same scenario played out five years ago.

Ponga also wasn’t feeling the awards night in 2018, contacted the NRL, and again they said that he had to attend.

And he came second, to the Warriors’ Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

So he had no expectations this time around he would end up wearing the famous medal around his neck and only made the late call to actually get ready.

Ponga also decided to invite his mum, Adine Ponga, to accompany him.

“Back in 2018 I said the same thing, I was like I don’t really want to go,” he explains.

“They said ‘you have to go’ and that year I came second. So I thought ‘I’m there to fill the numbers up’.

“I didn’t really decide I was going until about 10.30am and you had to be ready by like 3pm.

“So it was a little bit of a rush and it’s a pretty special night.

“If I was going to win the award, the biggest individual award there is, my family being there, they deserve that special moment as well.”

That decision also led to one of the funniest moments of the night on the red carpet.

Asked if her son had a chance of winning the top honour, she laughed and said: “No.

“I’ll be proud no matter what.”

Leave a Comment