THE NRL has claimed a victory in their legal battle with former Newcastle Knights winger James McManus, but what that actually entails may never become public knowledge.
It was confirmed on Friday that McManus had decided to drop his landmark law suit, in which he intended to prove that his former club was liable for a spate of concussions that prematurely ended his career and left him with ongoing neurological issues.
The hearing was scheduled to start today and was expected to run for at least 10 days.
Had it proceeded, a host of McManus' former teammates, coaches and doctors were likely to have been required to testify under oath. Instead McManus opted to drop the case just as it was set to kick off.
A day after the Supreme Court confirmed "substantive proceedings" had been settled and the court booking had been "vacated", the NRL released a statement claiming victory.
"The claim brought by James McManus against the Newcastle Knights, which was managed by the NRL, has been finalised with the NSW Supreme Court ordering judgment for the Knights," the NRL said in a statement.
"The NRL is pleased that this long-running matter has been resolved in the Knights' favour. The NRL was confident in its defence of the claim under the Civil Liability Act and we are pleased that the matter could be resolved without further cost and expense for all parties."
What constitutes "victory" in this case is anyone's guess, because all parties appear to be bound by confidentiality agreements.
McManus was suing for more than $1 million for lost income, medical expenses and a reduction in his future capacity to earn.
But the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the three-game NSW representative "will walk away empty-handed".
If that is the case, the 35-year-old showed no signs of disappointment, telling the Newcastle Herald last week: "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 SMH also reported that all parties had agreed to cover their respective legal costs.
For McManus, there may have been no need if the legal team representing him were working on a "no win, no fee" basis.
Whatever has transpired behind the scenes, what can be said without any guesswork is that it was in the NRL's interests that this case did not proceed.
Had it done so, two weeks of screaming headlines would almost certainly have ensued. Meanwhile, had McManus been successful in court, it may have been a catalyst for other former players to follow suit.
In other words, it's a great result for the NRL that an undisclosed settlement was reached, especially amid speculation that at least two law firms have been recruiting former players in a bid to launch a concussion class action.
In America, a similar scenario culminated in the NFL reaching a $1 billion settlement with former players who had been battling concussion-related issues after their playing careers.
McManus was forced to retire in 2015, at the age of 29, after a series of head knocks. He claims he was concussed seven times in 15 weeks that season. Two years later, he launched unprecedented legal action against the Knights, who at the time were employing him in a corporate-sales role.
Concern about the possibility of a large payout prompted the Wests Group, before assuming ownership of the Knights in late 2017, to insist the NRL offer an indemnity.
Court documents have provided a harrowing insight into the health battles McManus is facing. One document, filed on behalf of the plaintiff, estimates his life expectancy is just 53.22 years.
Post-concussion syndrome, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and frontal-lobe damage have left him with a range of issues including impaired cognitive function, impaired memory, anxiety, lethargy, sleep disturbance, depression and the risk of long-term dementia.