Te'o exit looms after Stewart's arrival

From foe to friend: Glenn Stewart in action for Manly against Souths. Photo: Anthony Johnson
From foe to friend: Glenn Stewart in action for Manly against Souths. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Ben Te’o’s contract agreement with South Sydney has lapsed with the Queensland back-rower increasingly unlikely to remain at the club following the signing of Glenn Stewart on Tuesday.

Stewart will end his 12-year first-grade career with Manly at season’s end after the club were unable to make him an offer because of the salary cap. His move to South Sydney is expected to end Te’o's two-year stint at the club. Te’o is a free agent after he failed to take up an option to fulfil the third year in his contract next year. That option has now lapsed, and South Sydney have started preparing for life without him with the signing of Stewart. Te’o has been linked with a move back to Brisbane as well as French rugby.

While Manly are expected to announce the re-signing of outside backs Jorge Taufua and Peta Hiku to multi-year deals they could be dealt a double blow with regular Stewart fill-in Jamie Buhrer also weighing up his options. The one-time NSW representative has indicated he wants to remain at the club, but the Sea Eagles are struggling to rejig their salary cap despite Stewart’s departure. Cronulla and Parramatta are possible destinations for Buhrer.

Glenn and brother Brett had planned to play out their careers alongside each other. Brett’s manager George Mimis said his player was contracted at Manly until the end of 2016.

“It would have been ideal for Brett and Glenn to have finished their careers in the maroon and white,” Mimis said. “But clearly that’s not the case, so it’s on with business.”

South Sydney, who beat St George Illawarra and Canberra for Stewart’s services, have already lost Sam Burgess to English rugby from next season. Te’o headlines a host of Rabbitohs uncontracted for next season. Outside-backs Nathan Merritt, Beau Champion and Lote Tuqiri are off-contract as is forward Joe Picker. The Rabbitohs could now shift their recruitment to an add outside-back, although they have the exciting Alex Johnston contracted for next year.

Stewart’s inclusion at lock is expected to force John Sutton to an edge back-row spot, with Luke Keary combining with Adam Reynolds in the halves. Stewart, Sutton and Chris McQueen will make up a representative back-row for South Sydney next season.

Reynolds, who will benefit the most from Stewart's ball-playing ability, said he was excited by the impending arrival.

“He has done a lot in the game,” Reynolds said. “It’s going to be great to have him here. As good as it’s going to be playing with him next year, it’s going to be a challenge playing against him.

“He is a great competitor. Their team really competes on every play. They are a tough team to play against. He has that toughness in him. It’s something we’d love to have at our club, he brings that ball-playing ability that he has. It’ll add a new dimension to our club. I don’t know what their salary cap [situation is] but, at the end of the day, it’s a business and he had to do what he had to do.”

Manly co-captain Jason King was left “disappointed” by the move. “He has been a crucial member of our team and integral to a lot of success we’ve had over the years," he said.

“Not only that but he is a really good team member and teammate. He has done everything for the club. It’s very disappointing to see him go.

“Souths are getting a very good footballer.”

Possible 2015 South Sydney team

1 Greg Inglis, 2 Nathan Merritt/Bryson Goodwin, 3 Dylan Walker, 4 Kirisome Auva'a,  5 Alex Johnston, 6 Luke Keary, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 George Burgess, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Tim Grant, 11 Chris McQueen, 12 John Sutton, 13 Glenn Stewart

14 Thomas Burgess, 15 Kyle Turner, 16 Luke Burgess, 17 Dave Tyrrell

Signed: Tim Grant, Glenn Stewart

Gone: Sam Burgess

Off-contract: Ben Te’o, Nathan Merritt, Lote Tuqiri, Beau Champion, Joe Picker

This story Te'o exit looms after Stewart's arrival first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.