Ponga back for injury decimated Knights

·3-min read

Newcastle's decimated squad has been boosted by the return of Kalyn Ponga with the club set to start Blake Green and Connor Watson in the halves against the Gold Coast.

With at least 10 players of their top-29 squad unavailable through either injury or suspension, the Knights have named three development players in their 21-man squad to face the Titans on Saturday.

It comes as Jacob Saifiti was ruled out of Saturday's NRL clash with the Titans due to suspension, adding further strain to Newcastle's list of available players.

On Tuesday the Knights prop took the early guilty plea and accepted a one-match ban for a shoulder charge on St George Illawarra winger Mikaele Ravalawa.

It adds Saifiti to a long list of players unavailable for the Knights, with the club applying for dispensation to name a 21-man squad on Tuesday afternoon.

With NRL approval the Knights have added three development players to the squad, with hooker Chris Randall named on the interchange as well as Jack Johns and Garrett Smith to the extended bench.

Ponga's return from off-season shoulder surgery is a boost for the side who plunged deeper into injury crisis in Sunday's 22-13 loss to St George Illawarra.

On Monday scans confirmed star halfback Mitchell Pearce would miss 10-12 weeks after undergoing surgery on a ruptured pectoral muscle with Green named at halfback in his place.

David Klemmer (knee) has been named to play against the Titans but will build back into training after playing through a knee injury on Sunday.

Tex Hoy (hamstring), Kurt Mann (concussion) and Dom Young (knee) are all missing as a result of Sunday's carnage.

They add to the list of outs which includes strike centre Bradman Best (elbow), winger Edrick Lee (foot), Phoenix Crossland (knee), Lachlan Fitzgibbon (shoulder), Bailey Hodgson (knee) and Jirah Momoisea (Achilles).

Meanwhile, other big names are set to return from injury across the weekend.

Melbourne hooker Harry Grant is a chance of playing against Canterbury on Saturday in his first game back from a knee injury and has been named on an extended bench.

North Queensland co-captain Jason Taumalolo is also set for a return with hopes he can turn around the Cowboys' miserable winless start to the season against the Wests Tigers.

Canterbury skipper Josh Jackson, Dallin Watene Zelezniak and Luke Thompson all return from suspension to join the winless side to face the Storm on Saturday afternoon.

"Things are a lot easier when you're sitting in the stands and not on the field, it's easier to see what might be going on and what we might need to do to fix things," Jackson said on Tuesday, after the Bulldogs' horror 38-0 loss to South Sydney on Friday.

"We've just got to trust in the process and come in with a positive attitude and take the lessons out of the games as well to turn things around."

Elsewhere, South Sydney have named Benji Marshall at five-eighth to face Brisbane on Thursday night while Cody Walker serves a suspension.