A HOST of former Newcastle Knights players, coaches and staff are set to be spared the ordeal of testifying under oath, amid speculation that James McManus' landmark concussion case will be settled out of court.
McManus, the former NSW Origin winger who played in 166 NRL games for Newcastle, was forced to retire at the age of 29 after a spate of head knocks, in particular during the 2015 season.
In early 2017, he launched unprecedented legal action against the club, declaring he had suffered a permanent brain injury that not only ended his career prematurely, but also left him with ongoing neurological issues that he continues to battle on a daily basis.
The case was scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court from Monday, but Fairfax Media has reported that it is unlikely to be required because legal representatives had informed the court that "substantive proceedings" had been settled.
Once a formal settlement has been agreed, the hearing dates can be vacated and the case officially closed.
It is expected the settlement details will remain confidential.
McManus told the Newcastle Herald on Thursday: "I am not able to comment on the matter.
"I'm glad that I can move on and I can concentrate on my family and the treatment and management of my neurological issues.
"I just can't say any more than that."
The legal firm representing McManus also declined to comment. The Herald is still awaiting a response from the Knights. An NRL spokesman said there was "no update".
If the case was to proceed, it could have been an awkward, and potentially confronting, experience for a number of former Knights players, coaches and staff.
Among those who may have been required to take the stand were former Newcastle coaches Wayne Bennett and Rick Stone, club legend Danny Buderus, former CEO Matt Gidley and long-serving Knights doctor Peter McGeoch.
Buderus, who played alongside McManus, was the on-field trainer on several occasions when the latter suffered head knocks.
McManus' lawyers had also reportedly sought to subpoena the medical records of former Newcastle players Richie Fa'aoso and Robbie Rochow, both of whom suffered prominent concussions during their time with the club.
While it would appear McManus is likely to receive some form of financial compensation, it is understood the Knights will not have to pay one cent.
The Herald has been told that, before agreeing to take over the Knights in 2017, the Wests Group insisted the NRL indemnify the club against any potential legal action arising from players who had sustained injuries under previous administrations.
In particular, Wests were concerned about the possibility of future litigation involving both McManus and Alex McKinnon, who suffered a life-changing spinal injury in 2014.
It is unclear, however, whether the NRL is liable, because it is believed that any payout might be covered by insurance.
According to documents tabled by McManus' legal team, in 2015 he was concussed seven times in less than five months, either during games or at training.
His career finally ended on July 25 that year when he had to be helped from the field after a brutal head knock in a 52-6 loss to South Sydney.
His lawyers were seeking damages, costs and interest after claiming the concussions left McManus with ongoing health issues, including headaches, anxiety, depression, lethargy, sleep disturbance and memory loss.
Employed by the Knights as a corporate-sales manager after his playing days ended, McManus resigned from that role soon after launching his legal action.
At the time, then Knights chairman Brian McGuigan backed the club's medical staff.
"We think we have not done anything wrong and would certainly not do anything wrong by any of the players and ask them to do anything that was untoward to their long-standing health condition," McGuigan said in 2017.