McManus content being a 'battering ram'
Newcastle winger James McManus is content with his self-confessed role as a 'battering ram' for the Knights as they look to combat their five-game losing streak against the Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon.
Having only crossed for three tries in the last calendar year, with injury at the backend of the 2014 season playing an influential part in his lack of scoring, McManus is happy to do what needs to be done for the greater good of the team.
Averaging 126.8 metres across his eight games this season, McManus and wing partner Akuila Uate have had to pick up the slack "when there's not much doing", though remains confident it will only be temporary as the Knights look to get back in the winner's circle.
"It is one of those things at the moment where I'm sort of being used as a bit of a battering ram. A lot of my carries are on play one or two and I've only received a couple of passes in terms of back-line shifts all year which is something we certainly need to get sorted," McManus told NRL.com.
"Our errors are putting plenty of pressure on us and it ends up with guys like Aku and I having our carries really early in sets. If that's what needs to be done then that's what I have to do, I'm confident the polish will come soon enough."
The statistics don't lie, and McManus isn’t wrong about his lack of shifts out wide this season either.
Between Uate, back-rower Beau Scott and centre Dane Gagai, the right-edge of the Knights have commanded more backline shifts in 2015.
From McManus's 98 runs so far this season, 80 of these runs have occurred in the Knights defensive half – that is, 81.6 per cent of his carries.
While Uate has played one extra game than McManus – after McManus missed Newcastle's Round 4 clash against Penrith with an infected eye socket – the Fijian flyer has had 23 extra carries than his fellow winger.
Uate also has more runs than McManus in Newcastle's attacking half which isn't to say he isn't putting in the hard yards, in fact he has eight more runs in the Knights defensive half than McManus, which is a reflection of the extra ball he is receiving.
McManus realises it isn't the most glamorous job, but it needs to be done.
"[Aku and I's early carries] is an important job and it probably doesn't get the recognition – like other players and coaches give it the recognition it deserves – but probably the fans and media probably don't realise," McManus said.
"In a lot of your play ones and play twos it's important to win those plays and get a quick play-the-ball and the whole set comes off the back of that. The rest will come once we start completing sets a little bit better, build a lot more pressure and don't make as many mistakes.
"The cream and fun parts of footy will come, and quite often 80 per cent of the game is that yardage battle, but if that's my role at the moment then I have to do a great job of it."