With only a few weeks until the start of the 2009 season, Hegarty will need to work quickly to secure local services or he may choose to look at lucrative overseas options.
Souths said today that both the club and Hegarty agreed to terms – allowing the player to part on good terms before the start of his final year on contract.
A former Australian Kangaroos representative and Stage of Origin player for the Maroons, Hegarty was a standout during his time at the Sydney Roosters, but has struggled for consistency at the Rabbitohs.
Hegarty, since linking with South Sydney in 2004 has only managed 59 games for the Rabbitohs – hampered by injury and competition for outside back spots at the Bunnies.
In recent seasons, Hegarty has been hot and cold for Souths. Probably lacking a few yards of speed that he once had and struggling with defensive decisions at times. However, when on his game – Hegarty was a punishing player that punched well above his weight on the fringes.
Making things harder for the player, was the fact that Souths have some promising players coming through the ranks in the outside backs. Guys such Beau Champion, Buddy Gordon and Fetuli Talanoa have all kept the pressure on for spots – adding to the likes of Nathan Merritt who has been a consistent standout for the red and greens; and even John Sutton who at times has played on the edge.
Currently 29 years of age, Hegarty was contracted for 2009 – but will now be a free agent. Souths like the Melbourne Storm and a handful of other clubs are believed to be flying close to the wind in regards to salary cap targets and this culling may be a result of that pressure.