Manly dare NRL rivals to underestimate Schuster
Daly Cherry-Evans has dared Manly's NRL rivals to underestimate new halves partner Josh Schuster, who will return from injury just in time for a tough run of fixtures.
Schuster has played the majority of his 35-game NRL career as a second-rower but last season told the Sea Eagles of his desire to revert to five-eighth, the position he grew up playing.
When the Sea Eagles permitted veteran Kieran Foran to defect to Gold Coast at the end of last year, the door opened for Schuster's move to the halves, and the 21-year-old began repaying the faith over the off-season.
Schuster reportedly lost 15kg in the off-season and opted to rule himself out of contention for Samoa's World Cup squad so he could focus on his new duties.
After missing round one with a calf injury, he will begin life as Manly's full-time five-eighth when the Sea Eagles host Parramatta on Thursday night.
Schuster looms as a point of difference for Manly as they look to bounce back into finals contention this season.
At 185cm tall and with a second-rower's running game, he defies the stereotype of the modern five-eighth.
And having only started at five-eighth four times before, he won't be familiar to opposition defence as a half just yet.
Cherry-Evans hopes Schuster's status as an unknown quantity can play into Manly's hand.
"Because no one's seen him this year, hopefully they're underestimating him," Cherry-Evans said.
"(Schuster) is a bigger body, so his running game is definitely something we can use. His ball skills are really silky. The way he doesn't have to look to pass, and stuff like that.
"As a team, we all know what he's got to bring to the side and we're pretty excited about having him back in."
Schuster trained at five-eighth all pre-season but Cherry-Evans previously warned the pair would need some time on the park to perfect their chemistry.
He has told Schuster he didn't need to copy Foran in order to fit with a roster that remains similar to last year's.
"It's hard to compare other players," he said.
"We just need to make sure he plays his best game. We don't really need him necessarily copying anyone.
"The more quickly we can get Josh feeling comfortable, obviously we'll see his best footy. There's plenty of highlights to come if he's playing his best footy for us."
In Anthony Seibold's first game at the helm, the Sea Eagles thrashed Canterbury 31-6 to leave a disappointing end to the 2022 season in the past.
But fullback Tom Trbojevic says the side will remain grounded ahead of challenging games with Parramatta, South Sydney and Penrith in the next four weeks.
"We've just won one game of footy. It's a long season, we've got a lot of work to ahead of us," he said.
"(Parramatta) were grand finalists last year so it's a really big test for us and one we're very excited for."