FORMER NSW winger James McManus will miss his first game in a year after suffering a fractured eye socket in Newcastle’s 32-6 victory over Manly.
In a body blow to the Knights, the in-form finisher will undergo surgery next week and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Coach Wayne Bennett named Kevin Naiqama to replace McManus on the left wing outside Timana Tahu for the game against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
McManus suffered the injury in the first half of the win against the Sea Eagles but played all 80 minutes, scoring two tries, running 12 times for 107 metres, and making seven tackle breaks.
A Country Origin representative earlier this season, having represented Country and NSW in 2009, McManus has scored five tries in Newcastle’s past five games. Apart from his brace against Manly, he touched down against the Eels, Tigers and Raiders.
‘‘James didn’t come off after a collision in Saturday’s game against Manly but we knew he was in a bit of trouble afterwards,’’ Knights high performance director Jeremy Hickmans said yesterday in a statement on the club’s website.
‘‘He had scans on Monday and we got the results today which showed he has a fractured eye socket. We have him booked in for surgery next week and he will miss between four to six weeks.’’
McManus, who has run for 1981 metres this season, is Newcastle’s second most effective ground-gainer behind fellow winger Aku Uate (2051m). Jarrod Mullen, Chris Houston, Alex McKinnon and McManus are the only Knights to have played all 17 games this season.
The last time the Scotland-born winger missed a match was their 18-10 victory over the Roosters in Newcastle on June 26 last year.
Bennett named Naiqama to replace McManus, obviously confident the 21-year-old speedster is up to the task after his impressive performance filling in for Darius Boyd at fullback in Newcastle’s 20-12 victory over Parramatta on June 30.
Naiqama ran 16 times for 247 metres that night, including a spectacular 95-metre try.
In the only other change to the team that defeated the Sea Eagles, Bennett named lock Neville Costigan to return from a biceps injury.
Costigan was named in the starting side, pushing McKinnon back to a five-man bench alongside Robbie Rochow, Zeb Taia, Adam Cuthbertson and Marvin Filipo.
Warriors coach Brian McClennan named whiz kid Konrad Hurrell to return from a foot injury.
The 20-year-old right centre, who has scored 12 tries in as many games this season and has re-signed with the Warriors until the end of 2015, missed their 10-8 loss to the Broncos last Friday night.