IT’S not every day a 15-year-old from Scone arrives in Sydney and ends up living with the likes of former league star and media personality Matthew Johns.
That was the case for young Scone Thoroughbreds halfback Cade Cust when he first arrived on the Northern Beaches to become a part of the Johns household.
“They took me in when I first came from Scone. It was a bit surreal,” he said.
“The next morning he would be doing some skills work with his sons, Jack and Cooper, and me, in the backyard.
“We lived and talked footy all the time.
“I’m still good mates with Cooper.
“When I do see Matthew now, he just keeps telling me to keep on working hard.”
Cust has done just that over the past two seasons.
The 20-year-old’s hard work has seen him rewarded with a full-time contract with the Manly NRL squad for 2019.
In 2017, Cust played a dominant role in Manly winning the last-ever Holden Cup premiership.
He now joins Jade Anderson, Manase Fainu, Tevita Funa, Semisi Kioa, Haumole Olakau'atu, and Taniela Paseka from that premiership-winning squad in the Sea Eagles NRL squad.
“It is good to see so many players progressing from that Holden Cup team and staying together here at Manly,” Cust said.
“We have obviously played a lot of football together and the more we get to know each other’s style of game, the better it will be.
“Hopefully one day we can all make it through to first grade.
“That’s everyone’s goal.
“It is a huge thrill to be in the NRL squad.
“Just to be able to train all day is really helping me.
“To not have to go to work during the day and then train afterwards as was the case in the 20s means I can focus on getting my body as fit as I can.
“Our training sessions have been pretty full on and there is certainly no time to switch off.”
After playing six games in the Holden Cup last year, Cust finished the season with 14 matches for Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership.
In his 14 games, he was involved in 13 try assists, broke the line seven times, and averaged 50 metres per games in runs.
He also had an 83.6 per cent tackle efficiency rate.
“Playing in the Intrust gave me plenty of confidence,” Cust said.
“I needed to play in that competition as I was in my third year of the 20s.
“It definitely was more physical in terms of the wrestle and the defensive side of the game but I enjoyed the challenge of it.”
Cust said the opportunity to work alongside experienced Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans was proving very beneficial in further developing his game.
“I like the way Daly goes about his business at training,” he explained.
“He gets the younger players involved in little kicking drills after training and it certainly helps.
“It is fun to do the extras with him.
“He is the Australian Test halfback after all, so anything you can learn from him at training is a big bonus.”