Ponga and Hastings are in a race against time to recover from their respective severe shoulder and ankle injuries. Both players were absent from the game against the Dragons this Saturday yet Coach O’Brien maintains hope for their return in their upcoming elimination match.
“I have a strong feeling about their return to play,” O’Brien stated in the aftermath of their triumph over St George Illawarra.
He went on to confirm their home ground advantage for next week’s game, albeit unaware of the competing team or its composition. Nonetheless, O’Brien indicated optimism regarding Ponga and Hastings’ participation.
“Ponga’s recovery progress is encouraging,” O’Brien revealed. “His movement freedom is increasing day by day.”
O’Brien praised the relentless efforts of the medical team and physiotherapists treating Ponga. He added Ponga’s resolve to participate in the finals, sighting it as a contributing factor towards hastening his recovery.
Echoing similar sentiments for Hastings, O’Brien shared that although there are improved recovery days, the post-training period induces soreness. He assured fans that all possible efforts are being channelled towards their recovery in time for the game.
“I anticipate their return to play,” O’Brien confirmed.
Hastings has remained benched since round 24, due to an aggravated pre-existing injury. Ponga was pulled from last week’s victorious game against Cronulla owing to a high grade AC joint issue; his recovery time now a top priority.
With Ponga coping with his shoulder’s sensitivity to impact, O’Brien maintains that the team can find success even if he is missing from the game.
“We simply have to adapt,” O’Brien stressed. “This isn’t meant to slight Ponga, but our belief system in our ability should enable us to participate effectively in the game.”