Slater tells Ponga to reject Dolphins, Yeo on track to break Dally M forwards drought

Maroons coach Billy Slater believes star fullback Kalyn Ponga would be better off staying with Newcastle rather than heading to Redcliffe to be part of the Dolphins’ expansion side next year.

Ponga, who is contracted to the Knights until the end of 2024 but has a player option in his deal to leave at the end of this season, has reportedly met Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett about the prospect of linking up with the new team.

The Dolphins are desperate to land a marquee recruit to be the face of their franchise and Ponga, as the Queensland fullback and one of the most marketable names in the NRL, would be a massive coup for the new club.

“It’s a big ask to go because they’re going to have to develop from the ground up, the Dolphins. I don’t like the term rebuild or building, but they haven’t got enough players at the moment. They need players,” Slater said on his Billy’s Breakdown program on Wide World of Sports.

“I’d be staying in Newcastle if I was Kalyn.

“You just get the feeling that the Dolphins need a big catch and if they could get Kalyn Ponga you feel that they would get two or three after him. But I think the first one is going to be the hard one to get.”

Slater said the Dolphins had signed plenty of honest toilers in Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Ray Stone but “they need a big fish like Kalyn Ponga”.

“They’ve got the soldiers there to create a good work ethic and some good standards … I understand why Wayne Bennett would head down to Newcastle and try and entice him to go up there to Brisbane.”

Isaah Yeo of the Panthers is tackled

Isaah Yeo (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Yeo, bro – Forward’s Dally M perfect start continues

Penrith co-captain Isaah Yeo is off to an astounding start in his bid to become one of the rare forwards to win the Dally M Medal.

Yeo has polled three votes for the fourth week in a row to sit at the top of the leaderboard, two clear of Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen, who was player of the match in his team’s demolition of the Dogs on Sunday after racing in four tries.

With Yeo on 12 and Papenhuyzen on 10, they have already opened up a handy lead over the chasing pack with Sharks recruit Nicho Hynes, Knights five-eighth Jake Clifford and Raiders star Jack Wighton next best on six.

In the past 15 years of the Dally M Medal, only two forwards have collected the NRL’s most prestigious individual honour – Melbourne hooker Cameron Smith in 2017 and Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo the previous year when he was named joint winner alongside Storm halfback Cooper Cronk.

Yeo was again at the forefront for Penrith in their emphatic 26-12 triumph over South Sydney on Friday night as co-captain Nathan Cleary made his first appearance for the season after shoulder surgery.

Dally M leaderboard

12: Isaah Yeo (Penrith)
10: Ryan Papenhuyzen (Storm)
6: Nicho Hynes (Sharks), Jake Clifford (Knights), Jack Wighton (Raiders)
5: Siosifa Talakai (Sharks), Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles), Mitch Moses (Eels), Jahrome Hughes (Storm), Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Titans), Josh Curran (Warriors), Addin Fonua-Blake (Warriors), Reece Walsh (Warriors), Tom Trbojevic (Sea Eagles)

Dally M votes for Round 4

Titans v Tigers: 3 –  Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, 2 –  Luciano Leilua, 1 –  Luke Brooks. Judge: Greg Inglis
Sharks v Knights: 3 –  Siosifa Talakai, 2 –  Briton Nikora, 1 –  Ronaldo Mulitalo. Judge: Ryan Girdler
Panthers v Rabbitohs: 3 –  Isaah Yeo, 2 –  Dylan Edwards, 1 –  Taylan May. Judge: Nathan Hindmarsh
Warriors v Broncos: 3 –  Addin Fonua-Blake, 2 –  Reece Walsh, 1 –  Shaun Johnson (WAR). Judge: Tim Mannah
Sea Eagles v Raiders: 3 –  Tom Trbojevic, 2 –  Daly Cherry-Evans, 1 –  Josh Aloiai. Judge: Ben Creagh
Cowboys v Roosters: 3 –  Joey Manu, 2 –  James Tedesco, 1 –  Luke Keary. Judge: Roy Masters
Storm v Bulldogs: 3 –  Ryan Papenhuyzen, 2 –  Jahrome Hughes, 1 –  Harry Grant, Judge: Chris Heighington
Eels v Dragons: 3 –  Dylan Brown, 2 –  Mitchell Moses, 1 –  Clint Gutherson. Judge: Jimmy Smith

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