Fresh off a dazzling performance for Samoa, Josh Schuster believes he’s getting back to full fitness, with the talented backrower taking shape as the circuit breaker that can keep Manly in the hunt for the top eight.

It was a stop-start season for Schuster. Due to injuries, he made only one of Manly’s first 10 games, but after playing five games in a row and working 80 minutes into his Samoan debut, the 21-year-old is starting to feel his best again.

“I’m getting my competition fitness back,” he said.

“I had a bit of a rough start to the year, but to get an 80-minute performance under my belt is really pleasing.

“I definitely feel it. I still have a few kilos to lose, but knowing our coach Des Hasler, he will certainly take me there.”

Schuster will have to keep his heels on the bench for now, with Andrew Davey playing well on the left and Kieran Foran locked in as Daly Cherry-Evans’ halves partner for the remainder of the season.

But Schuster’s display in Samoa’s 42-12 win over the Cook Islands on Saturday served as a reminder of the youngster’s gifts.

Schuster finished with three try assists, including two via kicks, as well as two line breaks and two line break assists.

At times he played with the Cook Islands defenders with astonishing ease.

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With Tom Trbojevic sidelined for the remainder of the season and Manly currently in 10th place, the Sea Eagles will muster all the offensive firepower they can, so fitting Schuster somewhere is likely to be a key part of Hasler’s plans for Manly to have a top eight charge.

While Schuster will face stronger opposition than the Cook Islands in the coming weeks, starting with Thursday’s showdown against Melbourne, the fact that he made it through the 80 minutes and looking good while doing so is just as sure a sign that he’s close. comes to its best. †

“I have to thank my club, Manly Sea Eagles, the high-performance unit, the executive staff, Des Hasler and [assistant coach] Steven Hales. I have to thank them for this opportunity,” Schuster said.

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