McManus close to comeback for Knights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

McManus close to comeback for Knights

By Ian McCullough 27/08/2009 06:56:43 PM Comments (0)

Rookie Newcastle coach Rick Stone has revealed he is ready to unleash NSW winger James McManus as soon as next week as the Knights look to secure an NRL finals spot.

McManus has not played since he damaged his Achilles tendon in the Knights' 13-0 defeat to the Warriors in June, in what was believed to be a season-ending injury.

However, Stone said the Scottish-born winger has made great progress and is likely to be involved in the Knights' final home game of the season against Penrith on Sunday week.

"James McManus had some chance of playing this week, he has been building up his intensity to something near top speed," Stone said.

"We are getting him to change direction a little bit more and getting him to jump and do all the things dynamically to test his injury and he will be considered for selection next week."

Stone, who has led the Knights to two successive victories since taking over from Brian Smith earlier this month, believes victory over Canberra on Monday night will ensure a top-eight spot.

He is also confident of overcoming an appalling record in the nation's capital, where the Knights have lost six of their last seven matches.

"We know our record is not that flash but those uncontrollables can take care of themselves," he said.

"We can control how we play against Canberra by preparing well this week. We are excited about going there and excited by the run into the finals.

"I think 30 points will get you there and that is our first priority - if we win on Monday night, we are in the semi-finals."

The Knights have not featured in the play-offs since Andrew Johns' last full season in 2006 and, despite their new coach's confidence, Stone is looking no further than Monday.

"We are concentrating solely on this game and are in control of our destiny which is what we want," he said.

"Once it is out of the way we will worry about Penrith (in round 26) and hopefully then the finals."

Stone also revealed prop Cameron Ciraldo, who broke his fibula in four places and dislocated his ankle during the round two clash with Cronulla, is ready to make a return.

"Cameron has enjoyed full contact in training every second day, but at the moment the team is going well and we are relatively injury-free," Stone said.

"We are going to roll out a similar team to the one that has helped us in recent weeks.

"But Cameron has told us he is ready to play and when the opportunity presents itself we will have no hesitation in using him."

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