Not only does McManus have the ability to find the line as most good wingers should, he also has faultless defensive technique – in which his tackles don’t just stop opponents they either drive them into the turf or hammer them over the sideline.
Knights fans have known of the McManus ability for some time, but it seems the wider NRL community haven’t realised the true potential of this talented player. This weekend, McManus will notch up 50 NRL games for the Knights. Not only will it be 50 games, but since debuting for Newcastle in March 2007 – McManus has played 50 consecutive games, a massive achievement in today’s NRL environment.
His ability to play through injury is only just being realised by those outside the Knights inner sanctum; the dedicated flanker has taken the field with broken ribs, twisted ankles and major groin tears just to name a few.
Originally from the realms of Darwin, Northern Territory – it seems McManus is born with durability in this body. Certainly in Darwin, you don’t get anywhere if you complain about the little things as they see it.
When asked about his ability to play through pain and restriction; McManus just shrugs –
“But when you come to a club like Newcastle, right from the start they make you know the importance of durability.” confirmed McManus
“You only have to look at our 2008 captain Danny Buderus. You’d hear the stuff he played with and that inspired you to do the same.
“And Bedsey was carrying injury in the middle of the field . . . I’m only out there on the wing.”
With Scottish ancestry, McManus took over where former Knight Brian Carney left off. His talent both with the ball and in defence, along with his pain barrier – have seen Knights fans throw him up as a cult hero in the North.
Still only 23, McManus plays with experience well beyond his years and is obviously seen by coach Brian Smith as a ‘key’ player in mentoring this young Newcastle side over the next few years. Since Brian Smith has taken charge at the Knights, McManus has seemed to respond extremely well to the new coach – enjoying his senior role in the club ranks.
Not content to just to train and play hard, McManus tries to put back into the Northern Territory region. Spending time with not only Knights juniors, but young Aboriginal players and upcoming rookies through the NT League Academy.
“When I was a teen, I remember Dave Peachey came to Darwin and that was it,” smirked McManus.
“We also got one Super League trial but you never saw first graders up there.
“That’s why I just try to help out where I can. The local coaches seem to appreciate it when we get together for a beer and chat.”
“But I was only talking to a fella the other day about playing 50 consecutive games. That afternoon I went and strained my back. So it’s probably best I don’t make any predictions.”
And McManus wasn’t joking, during a workout this week in the Knights gym – his attempt to lift over 120kg’s saw him get a twinge in the back.
But as McManus called over the Knights doctors to assist, team mates nearby in the gym barely batted an eyelid – for they know it will take much more than a twinge before Mr. Bulletproof will stand down from a game.