Manly Sea Eagles CEO Tony Mestrov has been forced to jump onto the offensive, slamming rumours that the club have been actively shopping Josh Schuster.

The five-eighth who will move back to the second-row for the 2024 season has had an incredibly mixed last two years, struggling for form and fitness.

It's a trend which has reportedly carried over to the new pre-season. Schuster had a bout of chickenpox, then suffered a finger injury which required surgery, and while Mestrov confirmed to Fox Sports those issues for Schuster, he also said the 22-year-old has had his best off-season in a long time.

Mestrov also confirmed Schuster is expected to play in the first pre-season challenge match against the Sydney Roosters for the club, which should then enable him to be picked in Anthony Seibold's 24-man touring party who will open up their NRL season against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Las Vegas.

“Let me be very clear, Josh has not been shopped around. That's just BS,” Mestrov told the publication.

“He's expected to play in the Roosters trial and Josh has had the best off season he's had for a long time.

“He's still working harder than ever in the gym and in terms of his cardio fitness.

“Sure he's had some injury challenges and he can't do ball work at the moment because of his finger.

“Yes he also had chickenpox.

“But from a club point of view we think it's been totally been misconstrued with this suggestion that he hasn't been training hard.

“And we're certainly not shopping him anywhere.”

Schuster is on a big-money deal at the Sea Eagles, and it was rumoured that he may have been one of the players being shopped in an effort for the club to get it under control.

But with those rumours shut down, and confirmation Schuster is now on track to play in the first trial for the club, it could see him in with a shot at getting back to the form which made him a breakout star in the second-row during his rookie season.

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