‘It’s a wake-up call’: The haircut sledge behind Schuster scuffle

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Manly peacemaker Josh Aloiai, who broke up a scuffle in training between Josh Schuster and a reserve grade teammate over a haircut sledge, says it is a wake-up call for the playmaking prodigy.

Aloiai confirmed he stepped between the Sea Eagles players on Friday when Schuster clipped Blacktown Workers utility Dean Matterson over his haircut, prompting a tussle in which punches were thrown but few landed.

Schuster was rested from NRL duties last week to improve his fitness and overcome an ongoing quad injury.

The 21-year-old has been in the crosshairs in recent weeks given his lucrative salary – which ranks among Manly’s highest earners – and his struggles to stay on the paddock.

“It wasn’t that big a deal, things like that happen in a competitive environment with a whole lot of alpha males,” Aloiai told this masthead of the Schuster-Matterson clash.

“There’s little scuffles, and things like that, that get broken up. You shake hands and get over it. Really, we wouldn’t have been talking or thinking about it if it hadn’t blown up with the media.

Josh Schuster is at a turning point in his career according to teammate Josh Aloiai.Credit: NRL Photos

“They’re fine. I saw both the boys the next day and we’d all forgotten about it. It happens from time to time and you move on.”

Aloiai jokingly referred to Schuster as “my son” and laughed off suggestions he could follow former Manly recruitment manager Scott Fulton, who has joined the Wests Tigers, to the joint venture.

The Tigers have begun internal discussions about Schuster, who is a free agent as of November 1 and one of Fulton’s most high-profile finds during his time at the Sea Eagles.

Schuster has played only three games this season due to injury. He was limited to 13 appearances last year.

He sat out Samoa’s World Cup campaign to work on his conditioning and dropped 15 kilograms in the process, a commitment Aloiai urged him to rediscover. It echoes multiple personal and public discussions captain Daly Cherry-Evans has also had with Schuster of late.

“He made that big sacrifice to keep himself on track,” Aloiai said.

“It’s been unfortunate with his injuries since, and now he’s at a turning point where he needs to work hard to get everything into alignment.

“It’s a wake-up call for him as to how hard the NRL is. I’ve been around for a little bit now, this is my eighth or ninth season and you’ve just got to respect the game. It’s very hard if things are a little bit out of order for you, it gets exposed eventually.

“He’s young and he’s still learning that. There’s a lot of young people learning that, the only thing is he’s got a tonne of potential, which is why there’s so much noise around him. He just needs to drown out that noise.”

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