BRETT Stewart’s management has put his contractual discussions with Manly on hold until after the State of Origin series.
But Stewart had this message for Manly fans: “I want to stay, I will accept less to stay than I have been offered to go elsewhere, I want to be a one-club player.
“I also want to play with my brother Glenn and my close mates but I need to be offered more than has been brought to the table so far.”
Stewart was talking while travelling from Penrith to Sydney Airport with the NSW Blues.
The try scoring number one has his mojo back.
He is in the best place he has been since his world fell in, when he was the face of the game at the start of the 2009 season.
Knee operations, expensive court cases and personal life disappointments are all behind him - and as far as he is concerned - so is his ongoing battle with NRL boss David Gallop.
After the third-round loss to the Sharks at Toyota Park, Stewart raised his head while he sat disappointed in the claustrophobic dressing room.
He saw an outstretched hand and shook it.
He looked up and saw it belonged to Gallop.
Nothing was said between the two but for Stewart it was the time he decided to move on with his life.
Stewart didn’t trumpet the handshake but like everything in rugby league it didn’t remain in house for long.
“There is too much to look forward to, too much to play for - I want to enjoy my football again,” he said.
“If I have learnt anything it is how much the game, Manly and its fans mean to me.”
Stewart’s teammates - particularly those yet to re-sign - are waiting for his deal to be done.
Stewart and his brother Glenn are influential via respect with their teammates, particularly young stars like Kieran Foran.
To lose one would split the tight-knit group, which has an amazing capacity to win against all odds as was displayed in the final minutes of a hectic and brilliant match against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium last Friday night.
The Sea Eagles board is under immense pressure to get Stewart’s deal done.
The season is fast approaching the halfway mark.
Enough time and enough talking.
A WEEK ago in this column I placed a big question mark over Anthony Watmough’s position in the NSW Blues team for the opening game in Melbourne next Wednesday.
The drums were beating “Choc” would miss out for his teammate Tony Williams.
Watmough had heard the whispers and wasn’t confident of making the team despite being in consistently good form for the Sea Eagles.
The Narrabeen junior has been chosen in the past when his form has been nowhere near as good as it has been in the past six weeks.
And it has certainly been better than that of the Dragons Ben Creagh, who has again been chosen despite repeated poor performances when in Blue.
Watmough’s defence has been touted as the reason for his axing despite playing in the Anzac Test win over the Kiwis in Auckland.