Manly young gun Josh Schuster has made the huge call to turn down a spot at the Rugby League World Cup to focus on nailing down the five-eighth role with the Sea Eagles in 2023.
Nine News’ Danny Weidler reports Schuster has told Samoa he won’t be representing Samoa at the game’s international showpiece.
The rising star has had a difficult 2022, with Manly coach Des Hasler at times dropping him from first grade due to his underwhelming performances off the bench.
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It’s been a far cry from his breakout 2022 season, when he shook off the disappointment of having his ambitions of wearing the No.6 jersey crushed by the arrival of Kieran Foran.
Schuster has long been touted as a star of the future, with his sparkling 2020 debut against Benji Marshall’s Wests Tigers described by the iconic five-eighth as “the best debut I’ve seen from a young kid in my time, ever”.
Then 19, Schuster was expected to form a lethal halves partnership with Daly Cherry-Evans soon afterwards, but that plan was derailed by Foran’s 2021 return to the club where he became a star.
While the competition seemed to spur Schuster on in 2021, as he became a key starter on Manly’s left edge, he’s taken a backwards step this season after returning from the summer sporting a heavier frame.
Injuries and the ‘Manly Seven’ drama have followed, with Andrew Johns earlier this month slamming his attitude and application.
“He’s not fit – he’s too big,” Johns told Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and The Eighth.
“I think if you sat down Josh, he’d admit he’s too big. He came back from the off-season, by all accounts, put a lot of kilos on.”
That blunt assessment from Johns came three days after Weidler first reported that Schuster was considering forgoing a World Cup spot in order to get himself into the physical and mental shape to be a top class NRL half.
Schuster will undoubtedly get first crack at replacing Foran, who is switching to the Titans, in Manly’s No.6 jersey next season, with his decision to stay home and report for pre-season in early November sure to be viewed as a positive step.
The RLWC will be staged in England, starting on October 15, with the final to be played on November 19.
Players who represent their country at the tournament will not be due to report to pre-season with their club sides until January next year.
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