MANLY captain Jamie Lyon says it's time for the Sea Eagles to accept Glenn Stewart is moving on and refocus on on-field matters.
A philosophical Lyon on Wednesday said as much as it would be nice to see the NRL introduce salary-cap concessions or dispensation for long-serving players, business is business and all good things come to an end.
Stewart will leave Manly at the end of the season to take up a two-year deal with South Sydney.
The former Test second-rower and Clive Churchill Medallist has helped the Eagles to two premierships from four grand final appearances in a celebrated 12-year career at Brookvale.
“It's sad to see him go. I was definitely disappointed — you don't like seeing your good mates leave,” Lyon said.
“He's been so great for the club for a lot of years now, but I guess we have had a good run for a number of years now with the nucleus of the side.
“Eventually players move on or retire. That's the way it is.
“It's all been done and dusted now. He's got a bit of clarity now so (we're) looking forward to getting it out of the way and now concentrating on footy.”
Lyon did admit Stewart would leave big shoes to fill.
“I think he's the best ball-playing back-rower in the comp,” he said.
“He's so skilful, so durable — he's played through some injury over the years and is definitely a tough player.
“Yeah, it's going to be tough to replace a player like him.”
Stewart's impending departure does free up money for the Sea Eagles to retain powerhouse winger Jorge Taufua, who on Wednesday revealed he was close to re-signing with the 2013 grand finalists. Lyon said that was a positive and endorsed Taufua as ready for a State of Origin call-up.
“He'd handle it. He's a big, strong boy and he does a lot of work for us and I'm sure he'd do it for the Blues as well,” Lyon said.
“He's been on fire since he came back from his shoulder injury and he seems to be getting better every week so it's good to have him on our side, that's for sure.”