Teenage prodigy Josh Schuster claims he never wanted to leave Manly and instead plans on challenging Kieran Foran for the NRL club’s coveted No.6 jersey.
Schuster, 19, is considered one of the Sea Eagles’ most exciting young prospects, after impressing in his NRL debut last season.
He was considered the front runner for the five-eighth role in 2021 before Kieran Foran returned to the club, prompting whispers Schuster wanted out.
But speaking publicly for the first the first time since Foran’s arrival, Schuster said he had no thoughts of a future elsewhere.
“No way (was I tempted to go),” he said.
“I started here since I was 14 years old. I’m a local junior, had my development year, played Harold Matts, SG Ball and then under-20s and now grade.
“It’s just a big family here it has been since I was 14.
“If I’m being honest, when I heard that he (Foran) was coming to our club I was very happy.
“He’s played for his country and it’d be pretty dumb for me not to pick his brain and to learn off him.”
But that doesn’t mean Schuster is content sitting behind Foran in the pecking order after sharing the five-eighth role with the experienced New Zealander in pre-season training.
Manly are expected to reunite Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves in round one against the Sydney Roosters – the halves’ first game together since 2015.
There had been speculation Foran could play hooker to accommodate Schuster but that now appears increasingly unlikely with Lachlan Croker favourite to start at No.9.
Schuster’s best chance to press his claims will likely come in next weekend’s trial against Wests Tigers.
“Obviously I respect them (Foran and Cherry-Evans) but we’re all fighting for our spots,” Schuster said.
“The season is around the corner. Hopefully, I’d love to love to play five-eighth.
“But if that’s not the case I’ll bide my time and keep learning.”