Hasler’s huge Foran call as young star emerges

The emergence of exciting talent Josh Schuster in place of injured Kieran Foran might force Des Hasler to switch the 20-year-old to the position sooner than originally planned.

That’s the opinion of Parramatta legend Peter Sterling, who acknowledged there’s still some “conjecture” about Schuster’s best position after he played a leading hand in torching the Eels 28-6 on Sunday.

“The way Josh Schuster straightened the play up, he was involved in all their tries,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports’s Sterlo’s Wrap.

“All their four-pointers were down the left hand side. Schuster was the man who threw the crucial passes to expose space down that side.

“He’s an unusual body, with all due respect he looks more like a back-rower but he plays like a five-eighth. When Foran comes back it will be interesting to see which way Hasler goes. I think the ‘6’ might be his even though there is conjecture which position he’s best suited to.”

Manly are 6-1 in the last seven weeks after going 0-4 to start the season. It’s a remarkable turnaround marked by the return of Tom Trbojevic in Round Six with the Sea Eagles scoring 208 points while only conceding 78, with a differential of 130 during that period.

Foran came off midway through the first half of the Sea Eagles’ dominant Magic Round win over Brisbane with a hand injury and did not return, with Schuster taking his place. Schuster went on to put on a clinic for the remainder of the 50-6 victory.

The 20-year-old was impressive on debut playing five-eighth last year – and is being groomed for the position long-term – but he has been filling in at second-row for the injured Curtis Sironen since Round Three.

The Sea Eagles product, who was brought to the club by the late Bob Fulton at age 14, was reportedly promised the position would be his in 2022 and re-signed with the club until 2024 earlier this month.

Schuster’s signature was in some doubt though when news spread of Foran’s addition to the team for this season, with claims his father had a falling out with the club over their reluctance to start his son in the position. But the Sea Eagles convinced him Manly was the place to be for a ball-playing big man with the club developing stars with similar attributes over the years.

“If you consider the influence that Glenn Stewart had at that club in golden times for them there’s some similarities there in just the build, silky ball skills and a real football intellect,” Sterling said.

“It’s a matter of getting players in the right spots, Schuster I’m still a little bit confused but he clearly showed he can play five-eighth if that’s the path they go down.”

While Schuster has shined in the playmaking role in Foran’s absence, Sterling couldn’t discount Trbojevic’s impact on the team and the confidence he gives his teammates by just lacing the boots. Sterling was particularly impressed with a moment during the win over the Eels which saw Trbojevic rip teammate Taniela Paseka for a defensive lapse.

“When Parramatta made a break, young Paseka didn’t come across and Tom Trbojevic bailed him out,” Sterling said.

“He was vocal and was very strong about telling to work harder I’ve never seen that side of him before.

“That’s what a team needs from the man behind the line. He’s not scared to bark at them. It was a remarkable bit of footage.”

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