The contest wasn’t the only thing the Knights lost, with star fullback Kalyn Ponga set to spend time on the sidelines after picking up a foot injury.

Newcastle’s No.1 was O’Brien’s biggest concern, with the 26-year-old out for at least 12 weeks after scans on Monday revealed a Lisfranc injury that requires surgery.

“Nothing to do with the hip-pointer [injury from last week], it’s in the foot,” O’Brien said. “A ligament in the foot, as far as I know it’s pretty rare, so not great signs for us. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is, but it’s a ligament that goes down under the foot.

“That muscle is pretty rare apparently, I’ve only had like 30 seconds just to give you guys some sort of information.”

With Ponga out, Newcastle face a tough task to turn around their 2-5 season. If they want to find the same success that catapulted them into last year’s finals, O’Brien said they need to rediscover their love for the game.

“We’re playing like a frustrated footy team. You’re looking at some of the teams – and the Bulldogs are a good example, Dragons are a good example – of not having great seasons last year, and they’re loving footy at the moment, and loving being in the grind and going after stuff,” O’Brien said.

Bulldogs celebrate after Bronson Xerri scores.

Bulldogs celebrate after Bronson Xerri scores.Credit: Getty

“We’re not enjoying it at the moment … We’ve got to get back to finding our love of the game.”

Sunday’s result marked a huge turnaround for Canterbury. Last season they were booed off by their own fans at half-time and were beaten by Newcastle twice, with a combined scoreline of 108-6. On Sunday, they were cheered off like champions.

After a chaotic win over the Roosters and a two-point defeat to the Storm last week, Ciraldo’s team is starting to find its stride.

“I just love how this group, just any sort of adversity, they just embrace it and walk towards it and I’m really proud of them,” Ciraldo said.


The Bulldogs lost young forward Chris Patolo to a knee injury in the opening minutes of the game, and have endured a string of injuries to start the season. Ciraldo said they were ready for the bye next week.

“I felt like we’ve got better every week. I feel like three [wins] from seven, I’d probably like to be one or two more wins ahead of that, but I felt like we’ve been in every game, we’ve given ourselves a chance to win,” he said.

“We haven’t iced some moments at the back end of games, but really proud of the effort they’ve put in every game to give themselves the chance to win those games.”

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