Force win tug-of-war in Super silly season
The Western Force has swept in to sign playmaker Hamish Stewart on a two-year deal in a move that is set to ruffle the feathers of the Queensland Reds.
The Reds were left fuming last month when the Melbourne Rebels made a play for Stewart.
Queensland claimed they had sealed a binding agreement with Stewart to keep him at the Reds for 2023, and they asked Rugby Australia to investigate the Rebels’ bid to sign him.
The Rebels were keen to secure the 24-year-old following the departure of Matt To’omua.
But the Force announced on Friday that they have signed Stewart for the next two Super Rugby Pacific seasons in a deal that is sure to upset the Reds.
Stewart’s arrival is an important boost for the Force, who were dealt a huge blow last week when flyhalf Reesjan Pasitoa suffered a serious knee injury that will keep him out for most of next season.
New Western Force coach Simon Cron was Stewart’s coach with the Australian Under-20 side.
Stewart, who can also play at inside centre or fullback, hopes he can help propel the Force into the finals.
“Obviously, we want to go to finals so hopefully we get that finals berth and go all the way through to win,” Stewart said.
“I’m really looking forward to it and experiencing the Sea of Blue. The comradery of the players with the crowd always adds atmosphere.
“It will be great to reconnect with some of the guys I used to play with at the Reds too. I haven’t played with them for a couple of years, so it will be good to relight the candle and put our best foot forward.”
General manager of rugby Matt Hodgson described Stewart as a humble man who would suit the team’s culture.
“Hamish brings a broad skillset and breadth of experience that adds a new dimension to our backline,” Hodgson said.
“He’s a tough and youthful competitor who has a great understanding of the game having played consistently since his debut.”