Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles recently re-signed five-eighth Cade Cust until the end of the 2022 NRL season.
This contract extension was very much deserved and came on the back of some stellar form displayed by the 22-year-old.
Despite only playing ten games this season, Cust’s impact on his side was evident, putting on man of the match level performances in multiple outings, including a standout game against the North Queensland Cowboys in round 11.
Keiran Foran’s return to the Sea Eagles in 2021 has many expressing concerns over the hindrance this will have on the development of young Josh Schuster.
However, it can be argued that the impact on Cust will be far more significant.
Schuster is only 19-years-old and has played in one NRL game, an extra year in Jersey Flegg or a season in the Canterbury Cup competition can do him no harm.
Cade Cust, however, was likely expecting to be Manly’s starting five-eighth going forward. The signing of Keiran Foran will now see Cust relegated to the bench or potentially out of the side entirely, even though he was a positive in an otherwise negative season for his club.
One way around this would be to play Cust at hooker, although, he has shown that he is a five-eighth and that is where he plays his best football.
There is also the option of playing Foran at hooker or off the bench with Cust coming into a starting role.
Following 2021, Foran may retire which would give Cust a full season in the five-eighth position and an opportunity for Josh Schuster to come into the squad in 2023.
Manly now has excellent depth in the halves, however, need to look at filling the gaps in other areas of the field.
Danny Levi’s exit from the club and Manase Fainu’s ongoing legal battle means at this point the Sea Eagles are without an out and out hooker for next year, and Addin Fonua-Blake leaving to go to the Warriors means an even thinner forward pack.