For the second time, Manly skipper Jamie Lyon has announced his retirement from the NRL, but this time he says it’s going to stick.
The game’s longest serving player on Wednesday announced with little pomp and ceremony that he would be hanging up the boots at season’s end.
Despite earlier this month telling reporters he was mulling over extending his career into an 18th season next year, the champion 34-year-old centre said he came to the realisation that after 345 games in the top flight, his body was telling him it was time to quit.
“It’s a little bit harder to get up for a game than it was a few years ago,” Lyon said.
“Mentally as well, when you want to play your best game every week and it’s not happening the way you’d like.”
He is the only active player to have played during the 2000 season, a fact which speaks volumes about his longevity. Lyon will reach 300 NRL games later this year, barring injury.
Lyon will go down as one of Manly’s greatest servants, having been a crucial part of their golden era during which they made four grand finals and won two premierships between 2007 and 2013.
While he will be fondly remembered, his career hasn’t been without controversy.
In 2004, he walked out on Parramatta just one game into the season, announcing he was retiring at 22 and returned to play with his junior club the Wee Waa Panthers in country NSW.
He re-emerged in the English Super League a year later with St Helens, winning the Man of Steel award for the competition’s best player that year.
His return to Australia with Manly proved the catalyst to the silvertails making back-to-back grand finals in 2007 and 2008 and he also guided them to the 2011 title after taking over the captaincy that year.
Despite winning the 2010 Dally M centre of the year award and being acknowledged as one of the best in his position in the world at the time, Lyon stepped away from representative football that year and refused to play for NSW and Australia thereafter.
He said he was in talks with Manly coach Trent Barrett about staying on as part of the club’s staff post-retirement.
“I’d love to stay around the place. I’ve had a little chat with Trent the last few days and there could be something on the cards there,” Lyon said.
“Hopefully I can be involved in the club somehow.”
A KILLER CAREER
* Debut: Parramatta v Wests Tigers, round 21, 2000
* 285 NRL games for Parramatta (2000-04) and Manly (2007-16), 60 English Super League games for St Helens (2005-06)
* 2005 Super League Man of Steel, four-time Dally M centre of the year, two-time RLIF centre of the year, two-time Dally M captain of the year
* 2001, 2007, 2013 grand finals, 2008, 2011 premierships
* 10 State of Origin for NSW
* Eight Tests for Australia