Andrew Johns criticizes Josh Schuster’s fitness as Manly Sea Eagles season is in balance

Josh Schuster was a popular candidate for many to make the leap into NRL superstardom in 2022 – but the young gunman Manly failed to get off to a good start after a breakout 2021 season.

Having played one game in 2020, Schuster was a key cog in the Manly machine in their run to a preliminary final last season, with many showpiece reel games along the way.

The 20-year-old was one of seven players who missed last week’s game over an objection to wearing the Pride shirt, but while others returned to the fold, Schuster was only named as 18th man by Des Hasler for Friday night’s must-win clash against Parramatta.

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Attitude and application have been Schuster’s enemies in 2022, Andrew Johns puts it bluntly.

“He’s out of shape – he’s too big,” Johns told Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and the Eighth.

“I think if you sit Josh down, he’ll admit he’s too big. He came back from the offseason, obviously put on a lot of pounds.”

Johns has been a huge fan of Schuster in the past, going so far as to name him the 18th man on a hypothetical Origin team last year.

But it’s not the first time in 2022 that the Newcastle legend has spoken out about Schuster’s fitness, expressing similar concerns in May.

NSW coach Brad Fittler was equally perplexed by the back rower’s conditioning.

“Getting in shape is the easy part,” Fittler added.

“Especially now – you train six hours a day.”

Schuster had been introduced as Kieran Foran’s successor in the No.6 shirt at Brookvale, with the veteran heading to the Gold Coast next year.

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But Johns insists Schuster needs to be careful about his future, both on and off the pitch, if he is to reach his full potential.

“Being a pro doesn’t mean being a workout pro — it’s living it,” Johns said.

“What you eat, what you don’t eat, what you drink, what you don’t drink – sleep, get your life in order. Treat your body well, heal your wounds.”

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