The South Sydney Rabbitohs have announced they have signed Manly back-rower Glenn Stewart for the 2015 and 2016 NRL Seasons Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
The Rabbitohs will replace one star English back-rower with two Origin-calibre forwards next season after announcing the signing of Manly lock Glenn Stewart for two years from 2015.
Stewart's drawn-out contract saga at the Sea Eagles was resolved on Tuesday morning and the 2011 Clive Churchill medallist will join Penrith's Tim Grant at Redfern next year, with the pair set to fill the rather large hole left in the South Sydney pack by Sam Burgess's imminent departure to English rugby.
Burgess possesses arguably the best-rounded game of any forward in the NRL, but the hard-running style that saw Grant play two games for NSW in 2012 combined with the silky ball-playing of Stewart (five Origins games between 2009 and 2012) will go a long way toward easing the impact of the big Brit's departure at the end of the season.
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Manly were keen to retain the veteran who was a crucial part of the Sea Eagles 2008 and 2011 premiership wins, but salary cap restraints in the end prevented them from formally tabling an offer.
Stewart says he is excited about joining the foundation club in 2015.
Manly 'devastated' by Stewart exit
"I've really enjoyed the times I've had at Manly over the past 12 seasons but circumstances at the club have led to me moving on at the end of this year," Stewart said.
"I'm really excited about moving onto that next chapter of my career next year and I'm looking forward to the change, and the challenges, that will come with joining the Rabbitohs.
"I'm glad to have this sorted out early in the season so that I can now concentrate on finishing off the job I need to do for Manly this year."
While there has been no indication of brother Brett's intentions in the wake of Glenn's signing, the premiership-winning fullback will not join his sibling at Souths given Greg Inglis has the red and green No.1 jumper under lock and key.
Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire is thrilled at the prospect of one of the game's elite forwards joining the ranks at Redfern.
"Glenn is one of the lynchpins to the extended success the Sea Eagles have had over the past decade and he will bring a lot to our club," Maguire said.
"Glenn has achieved a lot throughout his time in the game and the experience that he has at the highest levels on the biggest stage, as well as his leadership qualities, will be invaluable to the young players we have coming through in our squad.
"He's a tough player in attack and defence that can ball-play as well, and we're looking forward to adding him to our squad during the next pre-season."
Similarly, Souths players were unanimous in their praise of Stewart, with George Burgess saying he'll add a lot to the side.
"It's a good signing. He's a very good player, a very experienced player," he said.
Halfback Adam Reynolds said it was good to see the club continue to attract high-quality players.
"He's represented the game at the highest level and it's definitely great to see the club attract players that have represented their state... they bring a lot to a football team."