James McManus gets Origin call-up

JAMES McManus, the third right winger for NSW in as many games, says he has unfinished business in Origin after taking Jarryd Hayne’s place in the squad.
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McManus follows Blake Ferguson and Nathan Merritt to feature on the right flank for NSW this series following Hayne’s withdrawal. He was originally selected to act as Hayne’s shadow.

The Newcastle winger joined his NSW teammates yesterday afternoon, as he prepares for his first Origin game since 2009.

Only three players – Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis and Robbie Farah – remain from that match, the opening game of the series, with McManus’s selection ending his one-game wonder tag.

‘‘To get selected again is great,’’ McManus said.

‘‘It’s a monkey off my back and something I wanted to do again. It’s been a few years and I finally got here. It’s good to be back.

‘‘I wasn’t sure if time had passed me by but a fair few blokes have had a crack since. I just had to work out and keep playing good footy and if the opportunity came that would have been great but if it didn’t come I’d be playing good club footy.’’

McManus’s main memory of his debut, a 28-18 loss, was the pace of the game.

He has watched the opening two games of this series and expects to be challenged by Queensland’s left edge of Greg Inglis and Sam Thaiday, in the same way Merritt was singled out in game II.

‘‘I can’t imagine it’s going to be any different,’’ McManus, 27, said.

‘‘With all the ball they had in game two they’ll put points on any team.

‘‘I was looking to come down into camp and train as if I was playing. To get that call [that Hayne was out] and give myself a week of good prep is going to be great for me.’’

McManus has been in career-best form for the Knights, scoring 16 tries from as many games, and sits on top of the NRL try-scorers list.

‘‘I’m mentally tougher [than 2009],’’ McManus said. ‘‘[Newcastle coach] Wayne [Bennett] has certainly allowed me to prepare well and to be really consistent.’’

STEPPING UP: Knights winger James McManus at Blues training at Coogee Oval.

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