Brown admits Watson rushed back too early

Injured Newcastle five-eighth Connor Watson probably shouldn't have taken the field against the Sharks, in hindsight, after suffering a recurrence of his troublesome groin strain.

Knights coach Nathan Brown conceded Watson had probably come back too early after former Rooster hobbled off in the 49th minute of the 38-12 loss.

With star playmaker Kalyn Ponga (ankle) unavailable and Bulldogs-bound half Jack Cogger battling his own niggles, Watson was given the all-clear after getting through training but the decision to play him looked a poor one when the dust settled at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

"We've got a fair few troops not playing anymore and probably put a few out there today that we could debate whether they should have been put out there but that's where we're at, at this stage of the year," Brown said.

"Connor's playing with his groin [injured], again there's a debate whether he should have been pushed to play or not but we thought it was worth a shot."

The Knights were badly stretched over a poor final quarter of the game having lost edge forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon to a first-half concussion while also dealing with a weight of penalties and errors starving them of possession.

"Fitzy had the bad concussion. Hopefully, he'll be OK for next week, we're not sure how Connor's going to be but he'd have to be in some sort of extreme doubt," Brown added.

"At 18-12, we had to work extremely hard, losing the blokes we did and the penalty count and possession, to get to 18-12 I was quite proud of the guys' effort to be honest with you because they were working us over and our middles were being asked to do a lot of work."

Ponga and Watson are unlikely to feature next Saturday against the Dragons in the club's final hit-out of 2018.

"If I was being honest I'd say [Ponga] would be extremely doubtful," Brown said.

"Whether that changes next week, we'll see. He's in the boot at the moment. We'll see how it goes but we certainly won't be putting him out there if he's got any sort of long-term risk. We'd love him to play but we'll have to see."

Watson was an outside chance to play if his injury could respond to pain-killing injections, according to Brown. Cogger could likely get through one more game before possibly needing off-season surgery.

Ponga, forward Aidan Guerra and centre Cory Denniss each left Shark Park in a moonboot following Sunday's game.

Knights press conference: Round 24, 2018

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