Andrew Johns nominates Josh Schuster's likely new NRL club as 'weight clause' revealed

The Sea Eagles have told the out-of-favour utility he's free to negotiate with rival NRL clubs.

Andrew Johns has predicted Josh Schuster will wind up at the Gold Coast Titans playing under former Manly coach Des Hasler again. The Sea Eagles revealed on Wednesday that Schuster has been told he is free to negotiate with rival NRL clubs and can leave Manly if he can secure a deal elsewhere.

It comes as a staggering twist after Manly recently re-signed Schuster on a three-year contract extension thought to be worth $800,000 per season. But reports emerged on Wednesday night that the new deal is very incentive-based, meaning the Sea Eagles won't have to pay Schuster if he leaves, and doesn't even kick in until 2025.

Andrew Johhs and Josh Schuster.
Andrew Johhs has nominated the club most likely to pick up Josh Schuster. Image: Getty

Leading NRL reporter Michael Carayannis revealed on NRL 360 that one stipulation in Schuster's new contract relates to his weight. The 22-year-old managed to slim down in the off-season, but has struggled in recent months due to injury and a bout of chicken pox.

“He’s gone back (to reserve grade) and he’s struggled, you look at some of the performances there, there’s a lack of effort and a lack of desire,” Carayannis said. “They’ve told him today he’s free to go if he can find a club, otherwise he can see out this year and he’s free to go at the end of next year.

“Keep in mind, last year he re-signed for three years and he hasn’t even started that contract yet, he’s still in his old deal at the moment. He won’t see a day in that new contract which is remarkable.

"They are confident there’s some parameters in play that they don’t have to pay out a cent of that contract. In Josh’s contract there’s a weight clause, before Christmas he had met all his targets, he adhered to them, he was looking really good and they thought the penny had dropped here. Post Christmas, he’s had sickness, a calf injury, a broken hand and now it’s a bit murky because of those injuries, does it mitigate where those clauses are at?”

Josh Schuster.
Josh Schuster in action for Manly in 2023.

Which NRL club will Josh Schuster be playing at?

Discussing the issue on Wednesday afternoon on the 'Freddie and the Eighth' podcast, Johns pinpointed the most likely destination for Schuster. The Dragons have already ruled out the possibility of signing the utility player, but Johns reckons he will end up at the Titans.

Schuster played under Hasler at Manly until the coach left the club in 2022. Johns highlighted that the Titans would be desperate for a player with Schuster's ability to create tries, but suggested he's unlikely to get any more than $400,000 per season if there's no competition for his services.


Sea Eagles players only learned of the news on Wednesday afternoon, but admitted they felt for the five-eighth-turned-second-rower. "What's going on behind the scenes is above my pay grade and something that we don't have any control in," hooker Lachlan Croker said.

"We just wish the best for Schuey. Whether that's here or whether it's somewhere else, we just can only be a good friend and hope that it all works out.

"He's a person first, before he's a footballer. It's the same as any issue that happens with anyone else in our team. You want to look after them as a person first. He's got a lot of great mates in this team and a lot of guys that he's gone through school with ... so I'm sure they will all be looking after him."

with AAP