Time off can let Schuster sort future: Seibold

Scott Bailey |

Josh Schuster has struggled to live up to his star billing in recent seasons.
Josh Schuster has struggled to live up to his star billing in recent seasons.

Anthony Seibold is confident Josh Schuster can reset and grab another opportunity in the NRL, as Manly hope to go a long way to sorting the enigmatic second-rower’s future in the next fortnight.

A day after telling the player he could talk to rival clubs about moving elsewhere, the Sea Eagles on Thursday granted Schuster a fortnight’s personal leave.

It means there is every possibility the 22-year-old has played his final game for the club, after missing the NSW Cup side’s trip to Auckland.

Long considered one of the most talented players at Manly, Schuster’s career is now at a crossroads.

The Samoa international last year agreed an $800,000-a-year deal at the Sea Eagles for 2025-27, but it appears unlikely he will see the start of that contract.

Rival clubs have publicly distanced themselves from pursuing the five-eighth-turned-second-rower, but he is likely to be a target at the right price.

Seibold said it was important Schuster took a step back for the next fortnight to consider his future. 

“There’s an opportunity now for Josh to have a bit of a pause and work out what he wants to do next,” the Manly coach said. 

“He’s got two weeks of leave … and we’ll get things sorted during that period of time.

“I want to make sure Josh takes a breath and gets a good opportunity elsewhere.”

Josh Schuster.
Josh Schuster puts in a chip kick during a 2023 NRL clash in Newcastle. (Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS)

Seibold’s comments come after Wests Tigers coach Benji Marshall insisted on Thursday that Schuster could still fulfil his talent and cut it in the NRL.

The Tigers have ruled out a play for the youngster, but Marshall once labelled Schuster’s 2020 debut as the best he had seen in his 18 years in the NRL.

In the time since, Schuster has starred in Manly’s 2021 finals run but has battled for form and fitness over the last two years.

He missed this year’s season-opener in Las Vegas through injury, and has been unable to crack first grade since.

That situation grew more dire this week, when Manly promoted Corey Waddell to starting second-rower with Ben Trbojevic filling in at centre.

Seibold began talks with Schuster about his future last week, before it was decided to pave the way for an early release.

“Ultimately it’s a decision based around performance,” Seibold said.

“But I care for Josh. There’s another opportunity for Josh to reset.

“There is an opportunity for him to pause for the next two weeks and take a breath.

“We’ll work in the background and make sure things are sorted for both parties.”

Manly have lost forward Nathan Brown for Saturday’s match, after he suffered a knee injury in last week’s victory over Penrith.

Aaron Woods will play his first NRL game of the year in Brown’s spot, after being re-signed on a deal outside of Manly’s top-30 squad late last year.