McManus ready to return for Knights in Townsville

FORMER NSW winger James McManus is confident his fractured eye socket has completely healed and will give him no trouble when he returns against North Queensland Cowboys at Dairy Farmers Stadium in Townsville on Saturday night.

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Video by Jonathan Carroll

McManus has not played since suffering the injury to the right-hand side of his face in Newcastle’s 32-6 victory over Manly at Hunter Stadium on July 14.

Unaware he had broken a bone, the two-time Country Origin representative stayed on the field and ended up scoring two tries against the defending NRL premiers.

The 26-year-old Darwin junior will line up on the left wing in place of Kevin Naiqama, who coach Wayne Bennett retained on a five-man bench.

McManus explained after training this morning that the injury was more serious than he first thought, as he required surgery to have four plates inserted and his nose straightened.

‘‘It was a bit of an ordinary injury I ended up with. I came in off the line to clean up Jamie Lyon and managed to collect his elbow across my face,’’ McManus said.

‘‘A week later, I had to get some surgery and four plates [inserted] and a few scars which my wife wasn’t all that happy about but it’s feeling good and my head’s holding together so I’m ready to go.

‘‘The problem was my face had sort of dinted in and down a little bit, so they had to pull that back up and plate it all together and put a little membrane under my eye socket as well to hold my eye in place ... so I needed to take the four or five weeks I ended up missing, because it ended up being pretty serious.

‘‘It feels OK. With four plates in, it’s probably stronger than what it was beforehand, so I’ll probably have to leave those plates in for the rest of my life.

‘‘The worst thing was my nose had been pushed all the way in and across as well, so they had to fix that as well. They didn’t quite straighten my nose, but close enough.’’

The Knights will head north tomorrow and finalise their preparations with a training session in Townsville on Friday.

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