Pongia Back, Fighting Fit

Nathan Blacklock's return to rugby league has grabbed the headlines recently but another player has quietly made his comeback to the game in Australia.

Former Canberra hardman Quentin Pongia [pictured], who turns 33 next month, played for the Dragons in a Premier League match against Newtown at Henson Park on Saturday.

It was the former New Zealand captain's first game in the country since leaving France, where he played for Villeneuve.

"He came through OK and obviously needed a run," Dragons football manager Neil Lovett said about Pongia, who last played in the NRL for the Sydney Roosters in 2001.

"It's been a while since he played at that level in Australia because I imagine France is a couple of steps backwards.

"He did OK. He went forward with the footy a couple of times and got a couple of good off-loads away. And I don't think defence has ever been Quentin's problem."

Lovett added that Pongia would be a good asset for the joint venture club to help out coach Nathan Brown when regular props Jason Ryles and Luke Bailey are absent on NSW representative duties.

"Ryles and Bailey are terrific players but they're only young themselves," said Lovett.

"They're our leaders in the go-forward department but they don't have some of that experience and toughness in some ways that older heads have got.

"That's not a knock on them at all. It's just the fact that they're 23 and 22-years-old and Quentin has learnt a lot.

"I'm sure that's why Brownie bought him. Maybe that toughness ... he might be able to teach some of the younger forwards we've got."