Manly godfather Ken Arthurson has implored the Sea Eagles to do all they can to keep Glenn Stewart, describing the star forward as the “heart and soul” of the NRL club.
Arthurson, who admits he is not privy to Manly’s financial situation, says it would be heartbreaking for his old club to lose the Test back-rower.
“I really think they have to do everything they can to keep him. He is a wonderful player and a terrific bloke off the field,” Arthurson said.
“Glenn is without doubt one of my favourite players. He has given so much to the club over a long period of time and I don’t want to see him go. I know he doesn’t want to go.”
Stewart has been in limbo for seven months at the club where he has won two premierships and a Clive Churchill Medal but has yet to receive a formal offer to remain at Brookvale.
The stand-off has left the Eagles’ close-knit playing group dismayed with stars such as Steve Matai, Anthony Watmough and Kieran Foran pleading with Manly’s hierarchy to re-sign the man they say has been instrumental in creating the club’s winning culture.
Matai has warned of a player exodus should Stewart leave, a fear Foran played down on Tuesday, while there are strong rumours, Glenn’s brother Brett, who only last year re-signed for a further four seasons, may ask for release should the back-rower leave.
While Foran admitted he was eager for the 2013 grand finalists to put the Stewart issue to bed, the playmaker said the saga wasn’t a distraction and was certainly no excuse for “being blown off the park” by Wests Tigers on Sunday.
“It happens at every club and we’re just letting the off-field stuff take care of itself and we’re just concentrating on our footy,” Foran said.
“I don’t think it’s a distraction. Everyone’s professional enough to just get on with the job and we know we’ve just got to get the wins up at this time of year.”
Foran, who told AAP talk that he has a get-out clause in his contract should Stewart leave was “not true”, was hopeful tryscoring fullback Brett Stewart wouldn’t follow if the Sea Eagles didn’t retain his brother.
“They’re very tight brothers; they’re as thick as they come, but Brett’s signed on until 2016,” he said.
Arthurson, the former ARL boss and long-time Manly chief executive, also believes the NRL must do more to allow teams to keep one-club men with bigger salary-cap concessions for stalwarts.
“Nobody wants him to leave. Not the players or the fans and I’m sure the NRL wants to see players like that finish at the one club,” he said.
“Players like Glenn Stewart deserve to be one-club players and the NRL has to do more to ensure that can happen.”
Meanwhile, powerhouse Sea Eagles winger Jorge Taufua is available for his first match of the season this weekend against Cronulla, after the club’s joint top tryscorer in 2013 missed the opening five rounds with a dislocated shoulder.