Unlikely contract twist for in-demand Reds star

The Western Force have signed one of the Queensland Reds’ most consistent performers for next season.

Wide World of Sports can reveal centre Hamish Stewart will join his former Australian under-20s coach, Simon Cron, in the west on a two-year deal.

The move comes just four weeks after former Reds teammate Alex Mafi said that Stewart would be joining him at the Melbourne Rebels next season.

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Queensland officials bristled at that report and issued a stern statement declaring there was “a binding agreement with Hamish Stewart to remain with the Queensland Reds for 2023.”

“We have been made aware of another club’s attempt to allegedly induce a breach of this agreement which we have asked RA to investigate,” the QRU said.

It’s believed bosses at Ballymore blocked Stewart from joining the Rebels, but when an offer came from the Force to head to Perth, Queensland obliged.

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It’s understood salary cap pressure and depth in the midfield are part of the reason the Reds were happy to grant Stewart permission to head west.

The Force have recently lost talented young playmaker Reesjan Pasitoa to a serious knee injury which will see him sidelined for most of, if not all of, the 2023 season.

Stewart started his Super Rugby career at fly-half, played No.10 under Cron for Australia at the under-20s World Cup, and could be viewed as a replacement for Pasitoa.

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The 24-year-old is the sixth player to depart Ballymore at the end of the 2022 season, coming on the back of Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Angus Scott-Young (Northampton, UK), Mafi, Tuaina Taii Tualima (Rebels) and prop Feao Fotuaika.

Queensland, it’s believed, will now focus on re-siging co-captain Liam Wright.

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