Schuster searching for new home as Manly let him walk

Josh Schuster's days at Manly could be numbered after the big-money second-rower was granted permission to open negotiations with NRL rivals.

Just 10 months after being re-signed on a three-year worth close to $2.4 million, AAP has been told Schuster was informed he is free to exit the club.

Battling for form and fitness, Schuster has been unable to break back into the Sea Eagles' NRL side after an off-season of injuries and setbacks.

But after being a Sea Eagles prodigy since his mid-teens, the 22-year-old's path has taken a drastic turn in the past week amid discussions with coach Anthony Seibold.

Manly are confident the Samoan international will attract interest from elsewhere, but Sydney's most cashed-up club St George Illawarra have already ruled out a play for him when contacted by AAP on Wednesday.

Sea Eagles players only learned of the news on Wednesday afternoon, but admitted they felt for the five-eighth-turned-second-rower.

"What's going on behind the scenes is above my pay grade and something that we don't have any control in," hooker Lachlan Croker said.

"We just wish the best for Schuey.

"Whether that's here or whether it's somewhere else, we just can only be a good friend and hope that it all works out."

Josh Schuster.
Josh Schuster takes on the Sydney Roosters' line during a 2023 pre-season clash.

A prodigiously talented youngster brought in by Bob Fulton, the Sea Eagles have long viewed Schuster as an eventual fixture of their best spine.

But things have not worked out for the enigmatic star.

His 2020 debut was labelled by Benji Marshall as the best he had seen, and Schuster was a key part of Manly's run to the 2021 preliminary finals.

He struggled to be on the park in 2022, and by the time he was made five-eighth in 2023 his form and fitness had become an issue.

Manly have played the long game with Schuster, giving him periods of conditioning last year and ruling him out of this season's Las Vegas round-one trip through injury.

But he has not broken out of NSW Cup this season, and was even pulled from the field during a match in Wollongong a fortnight ago.

Schuster was then not named in the 22-man NRL squad on Tuesday, when second-rower Ben Trbojevic was shifted to centre through injuries.

Conversations have been ongoing between Seibold and Schuster over his future in the past week, before the news dropped on Wednesday.

"He's a person first, before he's a footballer," Croker said.

"It's the same as any issue that happens with anyone else in our team. You want to look after them as a person first.

"He's got a lot of great mates in this team and a lot of guys that he's gone through school with ... so I'm sure they will all be looking after him."

Manly made the decision to re-sign Schuster until the end of 2027 last June, amid speculation he could follow recruitment manager Scott Fulton to Wests Tigers.

It is possible the club will still need to carry some of his contract in their salary cap, unless a rival offers him a similar deal of nearly $800,000 per year.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store