The impending return of Manly five-eighth Dylan Walker comes at a time when stand-in playmaker Cade Cust has proven he is an NRL-calibre option to partner captain Daly Cherry-Evans.
Cust had arguably his best game in first grade in last weekend's 24-12 win over the Cowboys, producing a try, try assist and try save as well as doing damage with his running game and taking kicking pressure off his captain.
The off-contract 21-year-old is confident of inking an extension to remain on the northern beaches while taking every opportunity he can during Walker's absence due to an ankle injury.
"He'll be pretty close to returning, I'm not 100 per cent sure, I think he's got to pass a few fitness tests," Cust said of Walker's looming comeback.
"Hopefully, I can retain the jersey and if not I'll do my best for the team whether it's in the 17 or the six or whatever happens."
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Cust said he was individually happy with his performance after the Cowboys win.
"I'm just enjoying being out there, playing football, keeping it quite simple and focusing on my strengths and trying to do those well," he added.
"Playing six is my preferred position. When I get the opportunity I want to take it with both hands."
Of his contract he added: "We're working through it with management at the moment. I expect to [stay]. I came through playing in the juniors at Manly, they're the club that gave me my debut so it was always my intention to stay."
Cust's recent efforts drew praise from his captain.
"Cade's played really well," Cherry-Evans said.
"Even last year where he played his five or six games, he's always stepped up, always played really good footy. Cade's pretty fearless, he doesn't care who's in front of him, he just wants to get out there and play footy and compete.
"I've really admired that both times he's got an opportunity to play first grade he's been outstanding. It would be really nice for the coaching staff to know. That's handy to have there.
"It's exciting he wants to stay … He's learning a lot, he's enjoying coming to training and being around the boys. On a club level it's awesome to see Cade hang around a couple more years. He's certainly first-grade quality.
"Dylan when he's available is our first-choice No.6. As a club though it's really good to have someone like Cade that's ready to go.
"He's someone that wouldn't look out of place in a halves combination at a lot of clubs so I'm glad he's at our club. Every time he's used he's really stood up so it's awesome to see him play well."
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Cherry-Evans expected a call on Walker, named 18th man for Saturday's clash against the ladder-leading Panthers, to be made later in the week.
"He's obviously in contention, the fact that he's back in our 21 man squad, he's thereabouts so he's getting close," Cherry-Evans added.
"Dyl brings a lot of experience to the side, we've all seen how well he's grown into the No.6 jersey so if he plays it's a welcome addition."
DCE also revealed back-rower Joel Thompson had yet to train since picking up an ankle injury against North Queensland.
"We've only had one session so far this week and he wasn't a part of it," Cherry-Evans said.
"We've got training again today [Wednesday] and I honestly couldn't tell you if he's suiting up or not."