Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
In the week leading up to the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles round 20 clash with the Sydney Roosters the Sea Eagles revealed that they would be wearing a pride jersey for the game.
This was a move by the power brokers at the club to show that the Sea Eagles supported LGBTQ rights.
However, they were not only met by backlash from portions of their fanbase but also from seven players who refused to wear the jersey and ultimately did not play in the game.
One of these seven players was Manly’s second rower and rising star Josh Schuster who has recently revealed why he chose to sit out the game in an interview with Channel Nine’s Danny Weidler.
“It was a difficult period, but I put my faith and personal beliefs first,” said Schuster.
The 21-year-old then went on to address rumours that this fiasco had caused a rift in Manly’s dressing room.
“We are a tight bunch, believe it or not,” stated Schuster.
“(Despite) everything that’s happened this year, we’re still close, we still keep in touch.”
— 9News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) October 20, 2022
Schuster was set to be picked for the Samoan squad that is currently participating in the Rugby League World Cup but he decided to withdraw from the tournament to focus on being at his best for Manly in 2023.
This means that the Mounties junior has been caught up in the drama of Des Hasler parting ways with the Sea Eagles and Schuster also spoke to Weidler about that situation.
“He [Hasler] still talks to me here and there just to make sure I’m still training … but the main focus is he wants me to get ready for pre-season,” said Schuster.
“I think throughout his whole coaching (career) his main aspect was player welfare; he cares about the person.”
Players who are not currently playing in the World Cup will return to their respective clubs for pre-season training next month.
The Sea Eagles currently have not announced a replacement for Hasler as the coming 12 months are shaping up to be tough for whoever his successor is.
Not only will the club be looking to improve on an 11th-placed finish but the new coach must work to gain the trust of his players.