Manly’s Schuster bids to honour late Titmuss legacy
George Clarke |
The pain of reliving the death of childhood friend Keith Titmuss has given Manly’s Josh Schuster a renewed purpose as he faces a make-or-break season in the NRL.
Titmuss’s collapse and subsequent death during a training session in November 2020 has loomed large over Manly’s pre-season campaign.
Schuster is one of several players to have appeared in recent weeks at an inquest into Titmuss’s death, which was likely linked to exertional heat stroke.
The Samoan international’s form, fitness, position and pay packet have been major talking points during his time at Manly.
But Schuster says reliving the death of Titmuss, who would have turned 24 on Monday, has given him a fresh perspective.
“Being a witness, that was pretty tough, but in saying that the family is getting answers,” Schuster told AAP.
“He would’ve turned 24 today and I’ll do all I can to support his family because it’s been a rough time for his family.
“I think he would want me to carry on his legacy.
“It hurt the first year after it happened right in front of me, but I think he’d want me to live out his legacy and his footy career as well.”
Schuster starts the 2024 as one of the NRL’s most intriguing sub-plots.
He was re-signed on a rich three-year deal last season as a five-eighth, but his application in the position led to him being given a public dressing-down by captain Daly Cherry-Evans and he was later dropped to reserve grade.
The Sea Eagles’ acquisition of Luke Brooks means Schuster will start 2024 in the back row, a move he believes can help relight the fire within him.
“I definitely didn’t like how last year went, but I’m feeling good and fresh,” Schuster said.
“My goal is to stay consistent and play every week.
“I understand where he (coach Anthony Seibold) was coming from, I had a couple of good games, then I was out of form with a couple of bad games.
“If you look at my first full season in 2021 I played there and I played some good footy, hopefully I can take the good stuff out of that and bring it into this year.”
Schuster is likely to restart full training this week with a view to earning a spot on the plane to Las Vegas for Manly’s season opener against South Sydney.
The edge forward has had a luckless run with injury over the summer, breaking a finger, straining a calf and picking up a bout of chickenpox just before Christmas.
“They say it’s a lot worse when you’re an adult, chickenpox was a bad experience,” Schuster said.
“I was covered in pimples, a bad rash, and there’s nothing you can really do about it but go through the pain.
“Those first couple of weeks after I struggled, I wasn’t hungry and I was dehydrated, but now I’m feeling pretty good.” .AAP