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Shattered McManus to miss NRL final

Newcastle skipper Jarrod Mullen says James McManus is "shattered" after the winger was ruled out of Saturday's NRL grand final qualifier against the Sydney Roosters.
Shattered McManus to miss NRL final
by AAP

By Roje Adaimy

SYDNEY, Sept 27 AAP - Newcastle skipper Jarrod Mullen says James McManus is "shattered" after the winger was ruled out of Saturday's NRL grand final qualifier against the Sydney Roosters.

McManus failed to complete training on Friday morning due to a persistent ankle injury that has cruelled the back end of his season.

McManus had been wearing a moon boot for most of the week, but did train on Tuesday in a bid to prove his fitness.

He will be replaced by Kevin Naiqama, who performed well against Melbourne during last week's semi-final in McManus' absence.

The injury has also forced him out of this year's World Cup, with surgery on the knee scheduled post-season.

"Jimmy's out and obviously he's shattered," Mullen told reporters after training in Sydney.

"He's been one of our best players all year.

"With Kevin Naiqama coming in, he did a great job for us last week and he'll fill the position well."

Halfback Tyrone Roberts appeared to train with no issue after earlier being cleared of an ankle injury.

Despite the loss of McManus, Mullen said the Knights were relaxed and full of confidence.

"We're going in as the underdogs and that's the way we like it," he said.

"No-one expected us to win the first round (of finals against Canterbury) and definitely no-one expected to win last round (against Melbourne).

"So it's good. The team's building confidence going into tomorrow night so it should make for a good match."

Meanwhile, Mullen said he didn't believe the controversy around the Roosters would be a distraction for Saturday's do-or-die match at Allianz Stadium.

Reports emerged on Wednesday that six players returned elevated readings for Human Growth Hormones from blood tests carried out by sports nutrition company Nubodi.

The results of at least three players - Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck - were said to have been found on the phone of an alleged organised crime figure.

The trio were later re-tested by the Roosters and did not return elevated levels of HGH, according to the club.

The Roosters, who advised the NRL's integrity unit of the matter earlier this year and have not been contacted by ASADA as a result, later severed ties with Nubodi - who it had initially hired to help finetune detox diets for players.

While the revelations have dominated news headlines in the lead up to this week's preliminary finals, Mullen said he didn't think the off-field drama would play any role in the match.

"I don't think (it will) at all," he said.

"They'll be ready to play. They're the minor premiers.

"They've got a great team, so they'll be coming hard to play."


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