From Scotland to the Northern Territory and Newcastle, James McManus has endured a unique journey to the NRL.
Born and raised in Scotland, McManus moved to Australia while in primary school and played his first junior football in Katherine and later the Palmerston Raiders in the Northern Territory Rugby League competition.
He then made his mark playing for the Northern Territory in the Australian Under-18s championships in Darwin in 2003, where he was signed by the Knights.
McManus may not be your stereotypical country lad from Cobar or Canowindra, but he is equally proud of his rural heritage.
This pride was perfectly summed up when he was named in the Country Origin team for the fourth time earlier this week.
"Yeah it’s a bit of a different journey, but it’s all country," McManus tells Knights TV.
"I played my first footy in Katherine, so that’s country and then I moved down to Newcastle which qualifies me for Country NSW.
"It’s a great week the Country camp. I’ve really enjoyed the past games I’ve played for them.
"It’s a good bunch of blokes we’ve got playing in the team and I’m really looking forward to getting down there and representing the Country."
McManus says there is something special about donning the Country jumper.
"A lot goes into Country football and football everywhere, but there is something about the country towns and the community that rugby league builds," he says.
"You like to give back to that when you are playing for Country an you certainly want to do your best.
"There is something humble about Country people and that’s why I think the Country week is so good.
"You get to spent the week with a great bunch of blokes and impress everyone out in the country."
McManus will have four Newcastle teammates in the Country team with Robbie Robbie called up to the side following a number of late withdrawals on Tuesday.
He can't wait to play alongside his fellow Knights, insisting their selections is reward for their form over a number of seasons.
"Beau is the skipper and that’s a really good reward for a great start to the season," he says.
"And Mullo and T will be doing a great job and they’ve got a combination that’s already built, so it’s great to see them both getting a start.
"I think T will do a great job. It’s his first rep game and I bet he is looking forward it."
Sunday's match in Dubbo will also provide McManus with an opportunity to impress to earn a NSW Origin recall.
The consistent winger played in Game 3 last year, scoring a try and playing strongly in a narrow 12-10 defeat at the hands of Queensland, and he hopes a standout performance against City will help him land another Blues jumper.
"I got the last game last year and I’d love to be back there this season," he says.
"I’ve certainly got to put my best foot forward and just looking to play a good game."
As a good country lad, McManus is also looking forward to some downtime in the rural surroundings of Dubbo.
“Yeah some fresh air, maybe some fishing,” he grins.
“I always love country town bakeries and fresh bread, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and meeting some people.”
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