‘My ears were ringing’: Manu’s fracture fear as he races clock for round one

Joey Manu knew the instant he felt his caved-in face that he had suffered a facial fracture for the second time in 18 months as he pushes to be fit for the Roosters historic season-opener against the Dolphins in 12 days’ time.

Manu remains in doubt for the round one clash while back-rower Angus Crichton is not expected to play, having stepped away from the game on personal grounds.

Luke Keary and Joseph Suaalii (head knocks), Sam Walker (COVID-19) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (back) have all resumed training ahead of next week’s season kick-off.

Kiwi star Manu has done the same, without any contact work, since being forced to withdraw from the NRL All Stars and Roosters’ trials after colliding with recruit Junior Pauga’s elbow during a pre-season camp in Queenstown.

“It’s not ideal but it feels alright going into round one,” Manu said.

“I’ve been in full training, just without any contact. If not round one then I should be there round two.

Joey Manu suffered a horror facial injury against the Rabbitohs in 2021.Credit:Getty

“The bone is still healing so I can’t do any contact because I don’t want to get another break.”

The 26-year-old’s disrupted summer follows a delayed return to training after last year’s World Cup, with teammates Billy Smith, Sitili Tupouniua (ACLs) sidelined for the first few months of the season and Connor Watson (patella tendon rupture) facing at least a six-month recovery.

Manu still has three metal plates in the right side of his face from the infamous collision that ended his and Latrell Mitchell’s 2021 season, and knew instantly his right cheekbone was fractured the moment it happened.

“I was stunned and felt it,” Manu said. “I felt the indent because it was pretty pushed in.

Joey Manu at Roosters training in Queenstown, before suffering his facial fracture.

“Once I felt it I knew straight away, it felt the same and my ears were ringing. I just walked off the the field and just said to the coaches ‘looks like it’s broken’.

“I sat down and after an hour or two I knew it wasn’t as bad, I was watching the boys train and I didn’t take any painkillers.”

The Roosters on Wednesday announced Hyundai as a back-of-jersey sponsor for the next three years, making the tricolours’ 2023 playing kit the most valuable in the club’s history. Speaking at the announcement, captain James Tedesco said there was no timeline on Crichton’s return to the game as he lauded the Australian and NSW representative’s importance to the Roosters pack.

“We’ve just been supporting him, he’s going through some things at the moment, we can’t really go into detail but we’re supporting him and hopefully he can be back at training,” Tedesco said.

“He’s an important part of our team, he was one of the best back-rowers in the game last year. We miss him and we want him out there playing with us, he’s a big part of our team.”

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