Manly heir apparent Josh Schuster is ready to take ownership of the No.6 jersey and show his talents as a playmaker if coach Des Hasler opts to give him first crack at replacing injured veteran Kieran Foran.
With skipper and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans declaring his admiration for Schuster’s “grit and determination” since debuting in the back row this year, the 20-year-old is in line to move into his preferred five-eighth role on the back of Foran’s broken hand setback that could rule him out for three weeks.
While Cade Cust could also offer Manly a handy No.6 option, the possible return of Curtis Sironen may yet release Schuster from his left edge duties and shift one spot wider in the defensive line to begin his on field apprenticeship as Manly’s playmaker of the future.
“I’m very disappointed for Foz, I know how hard he works,” Schuster said.
“If I get the opportunity (to play five-eighth) I will take it with both hands.”
Schuster has been a revelation for the Sea Eagles this season. In the 50-6 thumping of Brisbane on Friday night he starred with one try, one try assist, 126m and six tackle busts.
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He has three try assists for the season and has shown a willingness to take the line on which has impressed Cherry-Evans, although the skipper was quick to caution against assuming he would get the chance to play five-eighth next Sunday against Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium.
“He would definitely be ready but I wouldn’t be quick to assume he will come in, Cade Cust is a great player and has played six for us,” Cherry-Evans said.
“He started his apprenticeship as a backrower and if he needs to he can come in and play five-eighth for us.
“I was always confident in his ability but he has shown a level of grit and determination as a back-rower that I haven’t seen from him before.
“It just goes to show how committed he is to being a first-grade player.”
Schuster said he has enjoyed his time playing on the edge as a backrower, but was ready to take the lessons he’d learned from Cherry-Evans and Foran into a game with the No.6 on his back.
Schuster grabs a four-pointer as the Sea Eagles hit fifty
With Cherry-Evans in fine form and fullback Tom Trbojevic in career-best touch, there may be no better time to unleash the highly-touted youngster as the experienced men around him elevate his belief to perform at this level.
“(Trbojevic) is a superstar of our game so to look across the sheds and see a player like that gives you confidence,” he said.
“He is a freak, I don’t know how to explain it.
“I call him Superman at training, he doesn’t like it but he is a once in a generation player.”