When Josh Schuster lines up for the Samoa national anthem this Saturday against the Cook Islands, he will look to the sky with mixed emotions.
There will be a moment of family pride, a sense of achievement, and also a touch of sadness that will see Schuster draw on some inspiration deep from within his heart.
“I’m not going to lie…I am definitely going to cry knowing how much it means to my family,’’ Schuster said.
“Everyone is so proud of me as I have family in Samoa, New Zealand, America, and Australia.
“To represent my country for my family is going to be one of the best moments of my career.”
And as the anthem starts to play at Campbelltown Stadium, Schuster will pause for his own special tribute to his childhood friend and former team-mate, the late Keith Titmuss, who tragically passed away at the age of 20 on November 23, 2020.
“We always said in school what it would mean to represent Samoa together,'' Schuster reflected.
Keith will be on my mind when I walk out to represent my countryJosh Schuster
“So, when I sing the anthem, I will be looking into the sky saying to Keith, ‘we’ve done it brother’.”
Raised in Sydney’s west, Schuster’s parents were born in Australia with his grandparents from Samoa.
A family sporting background in rugby union and rugby league saw Schuster inherit some natural talent, leading him to the Sea Eagles at the age of 14.
One of the real success stories of the Sea Eagles Pathways Academy, the skilful and confident ball player made his NRL debut for Manly in 2020, and has gone on to play 28 NRL games.
“I use to love going to watch the Samoan rugby league team play against Tonga. It’s still pretty surreal that I am now going to represent them,’’ Schuster said.
“My Grandfather, David Schuster, represented Samoa in rugby union. My great uncle John represented Samoa at the 1995 Rugby League World Cup and also the All Blacks in rugby union.
"Another Uncle, Sua Peter Schuster, played rugby for Samoa also.
"And then there was my Uncle Peter, who also played for Samoa and also enjoyed a successful Australian rugby sevens career that took him around the world.
"It's a proud time for all of my uncles.
"For me, playing for Samoa was something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid…to represent my country and my family.
“It’s going to be a very emotional week.”
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