Michael Maguire believes the leg and ankle injuries which kept key signing Glenn Stewart off the park have the potential to prolong the former Manly star’s career.
An ankle injury restricted Stewart to just six games in maroon and white in 2014 and the classy back-rower missed the first six rounds of the 2013 season following knee surgery.
He also endured an injury-disrupted 2012 after breaking his hand in round one and picking up a knee-injury mid-year.
But far from being deterred by the 31-year-old’s injury trouble over the past three seasons, Maguire believes the time spent off the field should freshen the 185-game veteran up.
The early indications look promising, with the one-time NSW and Australia representative playing a starring role in the Rabbitohs’ record-breaking World Club Challenge victory over St Helens.
“I think he’s going to have a great benefit from it,” Maguire said.
“His body has obviously had a lot of wear and tear over the years, but he hasn’t had too many injuries.
“So to have that bit of a spell, he’s actually come back into our pre-season as the fittest he says he’s felt in a long, long time.
“For us we’re just happy to have him in the green and red.”
Stewart, meanwhile, admits he has looked ahead on the calendar to see when he will face off against his old club.
He will have to wait until round 16, with the Bunnies hosting Manly at ANZ Stadium on June 26 – and a return to Brookvale Oval won’t be until round 22.
Stewart left Manly in difficult circumstances, with club management’s decision to not offer the two-time premiership winner a new deal causing ructions within the playing group which has since led to star Anthony Watmough walking out to join Parramatta.
But while Watmough has been happy to fan the flames following his fiery exit from Manly, Stewart is reluctant to stick the boot into his old club, where younger brother Brett remains.
“It was a big part of my life but things change and I’ve moved on,” he said.
“It’s all about Souths for me now.
“The boys have really welcomed me and so has the coaching staff and the fans have been really good too.
“I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous and worried about going because I’d been at Manly for so long but they’ve really welcomed me and I feel good there.”