Anthony Seibold, the coach of Manly, is calling on Josh Schuster to step up and claim his professional future. The move comes as the Sea Eagles navigate a precarious path towards the NRL finals as they await the arrival of halfback Luke Brooks in 2024.
Schuster is facing mounting pressure to showcase his remarkable abilities regularly to substantiate his hefty $800,000 wage. Even Seibold conceded that Schuster, the elusive five-eighth, had only shown fleeting displays of the prowess that secured him a contract through to 2027.
In a nod to the 22-year-old’s potential, Seibold commended Schuster for initiating a comeback in last week’s defeat against the Sydney Roosters with a commanding performance in the second half.
With Brooks set to arrive next season, it appears Schuster is likely to be shifted to the back row, leaving the halves open for Brooks and experienced captain Daly Cherry-Evans.
However, with a finals position up for the taking this current season, Seibold is calling on Schuster to up his game and demonstrate consistent talent, starting with a face-off against reigning champions Penrith at Brookvale Oval on Thursday.
“Owning his career is the challenge. Myself and the other coaches are here to assist, as well as him being accountable. He has shown prowess in brief moments, like in the last segment of the previous game when he pulled us back into contention,” Seibold asserted on Wednesday.
However, Seibold maintains that Schuster should fortify his performance for extended periods. “There’s still a lot of room for growth in his game at 22 years of age. Our responsibility as a club is to shepherd him to that point.”
Additionally, rumours surrounding Manly’s salary cap situation suggest Schuster might be on the market if his performance continues to fluctuate, given his position in the halves may be backup in case of injuries.
Reportedly, Schuster is the fourth highest-paid player at Manly, who currently in 11th spot following their defeat against the Roosters.
The next challenge for Manly is taking on Penrith and Seibold is clear about what lies ahead. “Penrith tests the rival teams in every aspect of the game. It’s a chance for us to assess our mettle. We should approach this positively rather than pessimistically,” he explained.