Catalans Dragons have announced the signing of Glenn Stewart on a three-year deal from the start of the 2016 Super League season.
The former Manly and NSW star was granted a release from the final 12 months of his South Sydney contract late on Wednesday and the French side revealed details of his impending move just hours later.
Stewart, 31, said he was excited by the prospect of playing in France where he’ll line up alongside former NSW teammate Todd Carney, Test and Queensland centre Willie Tonga and New Zealand international Krisnan Inu.
He’ll also be joined by Dave Taylor and Justin Horo who’ve been signed from the Gold Coast and Manly respectively.
“I’m really looking forward to this new challenge and I hope to win some titles with the Dragons,” Stewart said.
“The time is right for my family and me to experience something new in another country. It is a great place to live and I am looking forward to being part of the French lifestyle.”
Catalans head coach Laurent Frayssinous said it was a huge coup for the club to persuade the 2011 Clive Churchill Medal winner to come on board.
“I’m delighted that Glenn has chosen to join us,” Frayssinous said.
“We were looking for an experienced player to complete our pack for next season and it’s great news for the club that we were able to attract a player of Glenn’s calibre.
“He will bring his qualities in attack and defence. He will also bring his experience at the very top level to the club along with his leadership skills.”
Souths coach Michael Maguire said he had no problems granting Stewart, who’ll play in Sunday’s do-or-die finals battle with Cronulla, the opportunity to move to Europe.
“Glenn has done a fantastic job for us so far this year and his commitments to this club are not yet over,” Maguire said.
“We look forward to continuing our journey this year with Glenn as part of the team, and we will then wish him luck with his future endeavours once this season has come to a close.
The exits of Stewart and hooker Isaac Luke at the end of this season sees two of the Rabbitohs’s biggest earners off the books, and will intensify speculation the club will sign unwanted Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah and Sam Burgess.
Burgess has been included in England’s Rugby World Cup squad and Souths have first option to re-sign him should he decide to return to Sydney, which is widely expected at some stage with both his and his partner’s family still in the Harbour City.