Stewart jumps ship to reunite with brother
RUGBY LEAGUE: An opportunity to reunite with brother Kieren and get a season under premiership-winning coach Ron Gordon has spurred former Grafton Ghosts utility back Cam Stewart to ink a deal with South Grafton Rebels for 2017.
Stewart, who struggled for consistency under an injury cloud at the Ghosts in 2016, will not enter unfamiliar surrounds having played most of his junior football on the south side of the Clarence River.
Stewart said he had respect for premiership winning Rebels coach Ron Gordon, who will enter his second season at the helm.
"I have know Ron since I was a real young fella and I have always wanted to play under him. He has always just had that football knowledge about him," he said.
"(The club) has come a long way from the Rhino days and coming back in to be the Rebels - they are just looking to be competitive again and keep the momentum and I am excited to be a part of that."
After coming face to face with Kieren in 2016 for the first time since their backyard football days, Stewart said it felt weird not to be standing side by side with his best mate.
The pair scored a reserve grade premiership together at the Grafton club in 2014 and Stewart said they would look to do it again as the Rebels pushed to make it three Group 2 first grade titles in a row in 2017.
"I am enjoying the thought of getting back on the field, especially with Kieren and just can't wait for the 2017 season to start.
"It was tough to leave the Ghosts. I have a lot of great mates there and the committee were just a bunch of absolute legends. I do not have a bad word to say about the club and it will be tough coming up against them.
"They will be the team to beat next year, especially now they have (captain coach Danny) Wicks leading them around."
Stewart vows to donate portion of match fee to charity
The 26-year-old has broken new ground in his contract with South Grafton, pledging to donate $20 of his weekly match fees to the Cancer Council.
"It is not about the money for me, it never has been," Stewart said.
"This is a sport I love to play. If I am getting paid to do what I love and I can do something because of that, then why not.
"A lot of people around me have been affected by cancer, including big Scotty Cooper, and I know how it can affect those families.
"If I can make any sort of difference then that is everything."
The key signing of Stewart adds to a long list of names back on the books at South Grafton with Hugh Stanley, Grant Stevens, Luke Welch, Cam Wilcox and Kieren Stewart all renewing their contracts for next season.
Many strings to utility man's bow
Stewart has the ability to fill any hole in the Rebels backline, including the most pressing halfback position vacated by Theeran Pearson, who is understood to be returning to Ipswich next season.
Stewart said early discussions with coach Gordon had been fruitful but it would take a few 'trial-and-errors' in pre-season matches before the utility settles on a jersey number.
"I am pretty versatile in the backs so wherever Ron wants to put me in the first grade side I will be happy to play as long as I can contribute," he said.
"I have played every jersey from one through to seven over my time in football so I can slot in anywhere."
With a finger injury followed by a calf strain in his first match back in first grade, 2016 was a tough year that he was ready to put in the rear view mirror.
"I was constantly under an injury cloud that didn't let me play the way I wanted this season," he said. "The injury cloud was pretty shit to be honest.