Kalyn Ponga has come under criticism for
Kalyn Ponga has come under criticism for "disrespectful" comments about his coach. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

‘Disrespectful’ Ponga torched by legends

LEAGUE legends Brad Fittler and Peter Sterling have slammed Knights star Kalyn Ponga for his "disrespectful" joke about the departure of his coach, Nathan Brown.

The day after the Knights were thumped 46-4 by the Wests Tigers while their season was on the line, critics have come out swinging at the attitude of the players who turned out an insipid performance at Campbelltown Stadium.

It followed the club's announcement earlier this week that this would be Brown's final season at the club.

After Brown's press conference earlier in the week, Kalyn spoke to media and said he "wasn't too sad" about hearing the news because he was at lunch having a "nice strawberry thickshake".

"Kalyn Ponga ... that comment, it didn't come across well at all," Sterling said on Channel 9's Sunday Footy Show.

"He has come out and said that he wouldn't be the player he was if he hadn't had Nathan Brown."

But Fittler wasn't as kind.

Whether it was a joke gone bad or not, the NSW coach said the comment was thoughtless and disrespectful to the Newcastle coach.

"They're talking about paying him (Ponga) a million-and-a-half dollars and they've given him plenty of respect," Fittler  said.

"The least he could've done, given the question ... the question was about Nathan Brown not being at the club, he could've given it a bit more thought.

"I thought it was terrible."

Given the Knights' woeful performance on Saturday night, Sterling agreed.

"It was disrespectful, no doubt about that," he said.

"The performance, I didn't see it coming. I thought they'd win their next three games and maybe they'd sneak into the top eight, but that went out the window very quickly (on Saturday night)."

Ponga's performance in particular came under fire during the loss to Wests Tigers after he made two crucial errors and was found out of position several times.

"Let's be honest, we're looking at a sensational player. Kalyn Ponga, everybody is happy to give him a rap,"  Fox League commentator Braith Anasta said.

"But we have to be honest if we don't see him putting in the extra effort and not putting his body on the line and we need to call it out, right? You never see him give up on a play - it clearly shows where the Knights are at right now."