SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 16: Josh Schuster of the Sea Eagles passes the ball during the round three NRL match between Manly Sea Eagles and Parramatta Eels at 4 Pines Park on March 16, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Manly Sea Eagles second-rower Josh Schuster may not line up in Round 1 for his side as they clash with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Las Vegas.

In what is a big year for Schuster, he will aim to put disappointing form and a run of injuries over the last two years behind him as he switches back to the forward pack.

That in itself follows the failed move to five-eighth last year, with the Sea Eagles instead signing Luke Brooks from the Wests Tigers to partner club and State of Origin captain Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves this year.

But Schuster's pre-season has fallen apart, with The Sydney Morning Herald revealing he hasn't trained with his teammates in almost eight weeks.

The publication reports he first was forced out of training prior to the Christmas break after contracting chickenpox. Returning for the new year, Schuster lasted less than a single training session after suffering a spiral fracture in his finger, an injury he needed surgery for.

That has then been added to by a calf strain which has prevented Schuster from doing even physical work.

Given conditioning and fitness have been major issues for the youngster over the last couple of years, an interrupted pre-season is the last thing Schuster needed, with the second-rower and five-eighth only managing to play a total of 28 NRL games in the last two years following 21 games in 2021.

It's believed Schuster is now no guarantee of travelling to Las Vegas, and will need to pass fit to play a role in the club's first trial against the Sydney Roosters before flying out.

Without match time, the Sea Eagles are unlikely to risk taking Schuster to the United States, with the team wanting a fully fit contingent of players.

That's unsurprising given the risk involved in the game, and will likely be a narrative which finds its way across all four travelling clubs, with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters and Brisbane Broncos joining Manly on the trek across the Pacific.


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