Rugby League

Newcastle Knight's James McManus to miss NRL season due to concussion

Newcastle winger James McManus hasn't given up hope of continuing his rugby league career despite shutting himself down for the 2016 NRL season due to concussion.

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It was originally feared the former NSW State of Origin winger would retire prematurely after he was concussed early in a 52-6 loss to South Sydney on July 25 last year.

McManus was dazed and disoriented from an apparently innocuous hit early in the proceedings at ANZ Stadium.

James McManus of the Knights.
James McManus of the Knights. Photo: Getty Images

It was no surprise when McManus was was ruled out of Newcastle's next game, against St George Illawarra, given the NRL's stringent protocols regarding concussion.

But when he was overlooked for the following game, against the Sydney Roosters, it became apparent this was perhaps no standard head knock.

He did not appear in any of Newcastle's final six games of last season as he underwent a barrage of neurological testing.

His treatment is ongoing.

Just days after South Sydney legend Mario Fenech spoke out on the need for strict concussion laws, McManus said on Tuesday he needed further time to assess his playing future.

His current deal ends at the end of this season.

"I need rest and time to work through my options," he said in a statement.

"This has been a difficult time and I certainly appreciate everyone's support."

If McManus is forced to hang up the boots, Fairfax Media understands he is likely to be offered a job as a junior development or schools liaison officer. Under Newcastle's strategic plan, the club hopes to eventually field an NRL team including 70 per cent home-grown talent, and officials believe McManus can help them identify and nurture future stars.

He has already begun work with the club's commercial team. 

Mario Fenech told Fairfax Media he "would have been knocked out eight or nine times" a year during 14 seasons in first grade.

Fench said he has received life-changing treatment for brain damage he received during those years and praised the NRL's concussion protocols.

McManus, who was born in Scotland, debuted for Newcastle in 2007 and has made 166 NRL appearances, scoring 72 tries, all at Newcastle. He played five games for NSW.

New Knights coach Nathan Brown is well served on the flanks, where he still has the likes of Akuila Uate, Nathan Ross and Chanel and Pat Mata'utia.

AAP