Manly fans can rest easy. The Sea Eagles are confident high-profile backrower Josh Schuster will be on the plane to Las Vegas for next month's NRL season kick-off despite concerns a disrupted pre-season will keep him grounded. Schuster was floored by a bout of chickenpox before Christmas and was absent from training while he recovered.
He then underwent surgery in the new year to repair a spiral fracture to his finger, delaying his return to post-Christmas training. Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold is taking a cautious approach with the injury-prone utility but expects him to play in the trial against the Roosters in Gosford on February 17.
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If he gets through that unscathed, Schuster will line-up for Manly when they take on South Sydney as part of the much-anticipated double-header at Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium on March 2 (March 3 AEDT). An insider with knowledge of Schuster's injury situation told Yahoo Sport Australia: "Josh will be fine for Vegas.
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"He is back running and doing extras but can’t complete ball work at the moment. He's had a few setbacks here and there but overall we've been very pleased with his progress over the course of the pre-season.
"He is putting in the necessary work and we've confident we will see the best of him in 2024." Schuster missed a lot of football over the past two years as he managed injury concerns with fluctuations in form.
The club last year extended his contract until the end of 2027 and are hopeful the 22-year-old can make a smooth transition from the halves to the backrow and form a deadly combination outside Daly Cherry-Evans and Luke Brooks. At the time of his re-signing, Seibold said: "Josh has shown his commitment to playing his best football in a Sea Eagles jersey by signing long term for our club on less financial terms than he could of got elsewhere and for less than his current contract.
"I think this shows his commitment to his team-mates and club. His best football is in front of him and we look forward to developing Josh into a consistent, high performing NRL player."
Schuster added: "I want to be a part of a successful Manly team going forward, and I have bought into what 'Seibs' is trying to do at the club now and beyond." The Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs will kick off the NRL season on March 3, followed by the second match of the Las Vegas double-header between the Roosters and Broncos.
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