Schuster hungry to swoop on Sea Eagles No.6 jersey

Josh Schuster has laughed at suggestions he is too heavy to play in the Manly halves, and declared he’s out to prove he has what it takes to make the five-eighth position his own this season.

On Friday night, after Kalyn Ponga gets his first hit-out in the Newcastle No. 6 jersey on the Central Coast, Schuster will give Sea Eagles supporters their first glimpse of what life will be like without Kieran Foran.

Schuster has worked hard to slim down in the off-season, tipping the scales 15kg lighter than this time last year, and even skipped the World Cup with Samoa to be in the best condition to make an immediate impression alongside Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves.

“Obviously last year I had a disappointing season, but I’ll get the first opportunity at five-eighth, and I want to prove to people I am a five-eighth,” Schuster said.

“I grew up playing five-eighth, so I’m looking forward to it. I never feel pressure. I love the game, I love footy. I laugh [at the critics]. They don’t know what they’re saying. I know what I’m capable of and I know what my potential is.

“The ones who say it are probably saying it while sitting on a couch and eating.”

Manly’s Josh Schuster is ready for the No. 6 roleCredit:Getty

Schuster’s size has often been a hot topic for fans, with Immortal Andrew Johns last year criticising the 21-year-old for being “too big” and not fit enough, despite possessing an abundance of natural talent.

But the message from new coach Anthony Seibold has been simple for Schuster.

“Seibs wants me to work hard, work on my body, and the results will come on the back of that,” he said. “I haven’t weighed myself in a while, but I definitely feel good.”

Schuster was forced to wait for his five-eighth wish while Foran was on the northern beaches. There was talk Schuster was prepared to walk if he had to wait much longer for the halves move.

Foran was more than a decade older than Schuster, but the 2011 premiership winner had an impressive work ethic and brilliant on-field chemistry with Cherry-Evans.

Schuster said he was grateful to learn from Foran, while Seibold backed the new playmaker to quickly hit it off with DCE.

“He is a smart footy player, very skilful, and with Chezza’s experience and ability to get a team around the field, Josh doesn’t have to worry about that,” Seibold said.

“Josh just has to make sure he has good communication with his edge, links with Chez and Tommy [Trbojevic]. The thing about him is he plays really direct at the line.

“Flanno [assistant coach Shane Flanagan] has worked really closely with him in attack, I have worked really closely with him in defence, so let’s see what he can do.

“He doesn’t have to play pretty. The whole pre-season has been focused on doing the simple things really well … he has set himself up for a good season.”

Cooper Johns is another halves option for Manly after switching from the Storm in the off-season, while there are long-term high hopes at the club for Latu Fainu, who is still only 17.

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