Schuster declares he won’t leave Manly for Wests Tigers

Scott Bailey |

Josh Schuster has rejected suggestions he will follow recruitment manager Scott Fulton to Wests Tigers, declaring he has no intention of leaving Manly.

Schuster starred in his return for the Sea Eagles against Canberra on Sunday, providing a much-needed spark in attack and helping reignite Tom Trbojevic at fullback.

The 22-year-old insists a decision to sit out three weeks and recondition his body was the best call he had ever made, after feeling fit and 5kg lighter against the Raiders.

Schuster’s stint on the sidelines coincided with questions over his commitment, weight and long-term role at the Sea Eagles.

It also came as Fulton, whose late father Bob helped bring Schuster to the Sea Eagles, left the club to take up a job as the Tigers’ recruitment boss.

But Schuster said he would not be exiting Brookvale to follow him.

“There’s no way I’ll be leaving this club,” he said.

“I’ve been here since I was 14, a local junior. I love it here.

“Yes, I’m close with the Fulton family. They’ve done a lot for me, but I’m definitely not moving from here.”

Schuster also revealed it had been he who approached Manly’s medical staff about a reconditioning period, after back-to-back calf and quad injuries.

After initially returning against the Tigers in round eight, Schuster said he realised mid-match he had come back too early and twinged his quad again.

“I had no one to replace me, so I had to finish the game off, and I think I made it worse. You could tell from that performance,” Schuster said.

“I went to speak to ‘Seibs’ (coach Anthony Seibold) and said: ‘I think what’s best for the team is for me to step out for a month and get a reconditioning block and get myself right’.

“Otherwise I would’ve been letting my teammates down. It’s the best decision I made.

“The last month was definitely hard and tough, but it definitely feels better when you lose a few kilos. I felt more comfortable out there and fitter.”

He said he had deleted social media in his time out, during a period where former Manly staffer and Fulton family member Kristie publicly attacked his diet.

The playmaker also said he blocked out claims that Manly should release him for salary-cap reasons, and only listened to feedback from the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans, who warned him not to waste his talent.

“At the end of the day I know what I’m capable of, and I know what my potential in this game is,” Schuster said.

“If you don’t listen to ‘Chez’ (Cherry-Evans), you must be kidding yourself. He’s the captain of Queensland, captain of our club, played for Australia.

“I don’t respect anyone else more than him. He has a genuine care for me. He’s always checking up on me to see if I’m all right.”