Fit-again Stewart dead-bats Manly talk
Rabbitohs back-rower Glenn Stewart says he is loving his time at Redfern and isn't letting any ructions at his former club worry him, adding he feels as fit as when he first came into grade despite a couple of seasons wrecked by injury.
Stewart's new clubmates are also delighted at the additional ball-playing depth Stewart has added to their premiership-winning side.
The popular long-serving northern beaches man was not even offered a new contract at Manly last year as the club set aside cash to retain its star halves pairing, but it wasn't enough to keep halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, who signed a four-year deal with the Titans last week.
"No, you wouldn't imagine that was how they wanted it working out [with Cherry-Evans leaving]. I don't really concern myself with that stuff now, I'm at Souths and that's all I'm concentrating on and I'm happy here," Stewart said.
"I'm not too bothered. It was all pretty messy, my departure and the way it got played out. At the end of the day I'm happy here now and that's all I'm worried about. I don't really worry about what's going on over there now."
But Stewart was glowing about his new club, which trounced the Broncos by 30 points in Brisbane to open their 2015 campaign, while his former club Manly crashed and burned by an identical margin at Parramatta.
"It was good – my first official hit out for last week in the NRL and I'm really enjoying it.
"I had a good pre-season here, worked really hard with the physios and the rehab unit. The extra time off because of the surgeries, the muscles and everything feel good.
"That's the positive way to look at it, the surgeries weren't good but the rest of the body got a break while I was mending. It's probably the best physical shape I've been in since I was first coming into grade."
Stewart has dropped around five kilograms since his last full playing season. "I put on a little bit extra last year while I wasn't playing so it probably looks a bit more flattering!" he laughed.
"I'm loving [working with the halves here] and our combinations are only going to get better. We only really started doing ball work together after Christmas because a lot of the boys were away on rep duties.
"I think we're going to get better but the two halves I thought really stepped up and took charge. They've both got level heads on their shoulders."
Giant prop George Burgess has been impressed by Stewart's footballing smarts and ball-playing ability.
"He's a very experienced player, he's played in Origins and played for Australia, he's got that experience.
"It's a very valuable thing to have in a team. Especially when you've got a side like we have, a lot of the young guys are learning from him, picking up a few things in training. Throughout the pre season he's been very good with them."
Back-rower Chris McQueen and hooker Issac Luke agreed.
"We lost a few big strong boys [in Sam Burgess and Ben Te'o] but we picked up Glenn Stewart who's been great for us," McQueen said.
"Obviously he's a bit different to the boys that we lost, but he's fitting into the team really well. We've definitely got a great pack on our hands."
Luke said he was already enjoying guiding the new-look pack around.
"To be able to bring 'Gifty' [Stewart] in, he's played a massive role in our right edge," Luke said.
"I know the boys feed off it. To have that flair on both sides with Sutto [John Sutton] there [on the left]... I wouldn't say we've lost [size], a lot of the boys have stepped up."