Jamie Lyon has probably already got his beloved golf clubs packed into the boot of his car but Manly Warringah teammates insist they want to send their captain off on the right note, even if he is typically shunning any sense of fanfare.
Lyon’s 225th game for the Sea Eagles against old enemy Melbourne will be the second last he ever plays at Brookvale Oval, a suburban throwback as unassuming as the man himself.
In a year when some of the game’s most enduring names will call it a day it would be easy to forget that Lyon too is sneaking off into the sunset but you sense that he wouldn’t want it any other way.
Heavily criticised throughout the latter stages of his career for shunning representative honours despite being one of the premier centres in the game, Lyon remains very much the kid from Wee Waa who just happened to be blessed with extraordinary football ability.
Captain in some capacity at Manly since 2010, Lyon has chosen to lead by deeds rather than words and fellow Sea Eagles can rarely recall times when the skipper has lost his temper.
“He’s got a blow-up in him if we need it, but it’s probably one of his most under-utilised weapons,” Jamie Buhrer says in this week’s issue of Big League.
“He leads by example and I truly believe that’s the best type of captain. He says what he needs to say when it needs to be said.
“It’s been understood since he’s been here that the best way he leads us is by going out and dominating the opposition like he has done since he’s had the mantle – and even before that.”
With the prospects of semi-final football now out of reach following last Thursday’s gut-wrenching golden point loss to the Bulldogs, sending Lyon out with a couple more wins is Manly’s primary motivation.
The four-time Dally M Centre of the Year and two-time Dally M Captain of the Year will leave the game with every possible rugby league achievement ticked off his bucket list and still regarded as one of the elite players in the NRL.
He famously walked out on Parramatta in 2004 as a 22-year-old who was struggling to deal with the scrutiny that comes with first grade footy to head home to play with Wee Waa in Group 4 and Buhrer expects this final exit to be similarly low key.
“He doesn’t want any of the fanfare or notoriety that comes with being a player of his ability,” Buhrer says.
“He’s very quick-witted, he’s probably one of the quickest-witted blokes in the team and he’s got a pretty dry sense of humour.
“He’s a freak as well, it doesn’t matter if you bring out a soccer ball or an AFL ball he’s always one of the best at it.
“In every respect and in every way he is extremely unassuming in the way he carries himself. There haven’t been many better centres in the game.
“He’s one of a kind. He doesn’t hide who he is from anybody.”
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