Following the Knights suffered a 40-4 NRL beating from Parramatta on Sunday, O'Brien promised Newcastle medical team rated Ponga"little chance" of playing because of a groin complaint once the fullback was chosen by Queensland to the series opener.
Ponga nevertheless flew out to combine with the Maroons camp on the Gold Coast, just to be ruled out times after before Wednesday's Origin I in Townsville.
O'Brien stated Ponga's decision to not remain in Newcastle might have hurt not just his comeback but his match two choice opportunities.
"I figure by heading up there that he had been a expectation," O'Brien told reporters following Newcastle's eight tries to a reduction at McDonald Jones Stadium.
"Our health care team had looked at our specialists had little expectation.
"In hindsight his very best opportunity for game two could have been to remain here and continue working with the team which operates together with him."
O'Brien needs all of the assistance he could get after Parramatta destroyed Newcastle's annual Old Boys Day celebrations on Sunday.
Local fans were buzzing prior to the game as the team saluted members of the 2001 premiership win over the Eels who'd gathered to their special day.
However, the Knights were with seven ordinary starters and also had two players creating their Newcastle debuts - ex-North Queensland playmaker Jake Clifford and Jack Johns, son of club excellent Matthew.
Mat Croker was enjoying with his first NRL match.
"Please do not feel that I'm giving explanations here, however, you take seven from the Penrith side plus they get beat," O'Brien explained.