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Crossing the Lyon

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by ManlyBacker, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

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    Jamie Lyon has a short, sharp retort for his critics: GF. He means, of course, that Manly is in the grand final, writes Will Swanton.

    Humiliated by being voted the most overrated player in the NRL. Told by an Origin great to hand back his pay cheque. All the while, he bit his tongue. Didn't say a word. His only reply to the barrage of criticism has been to guide Manly into the grand final. Anyone got a problem with Jamie Lyon now?

    "It's been a tough year," the reclusive Lyon told The Sun-Herald before tonight's grand final against Melbourne.

    "There have been some rough patches for me personally but I don't want to sound selfish. It's a team game. We're in the GF and that's all that matters to me. That's better than playing Origin, better than playing Tests. That's not talking down those things, but we're a tight group here and we're so close to winning the comp. There have been some disappointments and I've been kicked in the guts a few times, but I probably got the rev-up I needed."

    Lyon's low point came when he topped the Rugby League Week poll for the most overrated player. It's the least wanted tag in the game. Origin hero Ben Elias had already embarrassed Lyon by saying he should hand back his pay cheque after NSW lost to Queensland, but Lyon kept his mouth shut, kept playing, kept helping the Sea Eagles over the line.

    But he admits the poll hurt.

    "Yeah, it did piss me off a bit," he said. "Hopefully I can shrug that one off next year. My poor old mate Braith [Anasta] had it for a few years and I took it off him. I'd be more than happy for someone else to get it. But I don't think anyone will remember too much about that if we win the comp. I think that'd be a pretty good answer to it all. It probably gave me a bit of a kick in the backside at the time. I was trying hard, but I was probably trying too hard to impress people."

    The only people Lyon wants to impress now are Manly coach Des Hasler and his teammates.

    "The most important thing is to get the respect of your peers and coach at the club you're at," Lyon said. "That's whose opinions count to me. They're the ones whose comments I take into account. Des and the boys have been pretty happy. I've been pretty happy with my form.

    "Everyone gets criticism at some stage. You get negative stuff written and said about you, and it does get you down, but there's nothing you can do about it. The more you worry about it, the more you're going to get upset. Like I said, I just worry about my peers here - my teammates, my coach, all the staff. That's all I can do. That's all I can control."

    Lyon fled Parramatta four years ago because he hated city living. No such problems now.

    Holed up at Newport on Sydney's northern beaches, he's not even really in the city. There's no traffic congestion at Newport, no over-crowding, no suffocation and, he says, no dickheads when he goes down the road to training at Narrabeen.

    "It's a quiet spot up at Newport - you couldn't live there and not like it," the 25-year-old says.

    "It's relaxing, everyone is friendly. I'm mates with the butcher. It's just a great little spot. This is a great club and we're all good mates. We hang out away from the footy. There are no dickheads, that's why we're all mates.

    "Just one more game to go. I've lost a grand final with Parramatta so I know how bad it feels.

    "We've just got to get through all the hype and finish it off."

    Manly's former premiership-winning back-rower Noel "Crusher" Cleal helped lure Lyon to the Sea Eagles in his role as recruitment officer. His blood boils at the mention of the barbs thrown Lyon's way. Cleal didn't mention Elias by name but there's no doubt his public roasting has not been forgotten.

    "It's ill-informed people getting on their soapbox," Cleal said.

    "The media go to certain people because they make a noise all the time. You ring a bell and they sit up and say something. The bloke we're talking about, he just can't help himself. We're a lot better off with Jamie Lyon than without him, believe me.

    "I don't take any notice of polls. As a player myself, they used to ask me the same questions. They get stupid answers because they're stupid questions. One year when I was at Manly we all voted a certain way and they wouldn't accept our votes. Jamie handled it the right way. He didn't blow up, he just kept getting out there and playing. I'm sure a certain former player who shot his mouth off will be getting a receipt in a subtle way - a kidney punch instead of a king hit, which he used.

    "We're in the grand final. Jamie is our No.6. For me, that says it all."

    Lyon has three more years on his Manly contract.

    "The transition back was always going to be tough for him," Cleal says.

    "We knew it was going to take time. He came back from England and there's only three or four really good sides over there. He'd played in Group 3 in the country for a year. That's a long time to be out of the NRL. He had to get used to the pace of the game again. He wasn't bad early on, nothing like it, but he just took some time to get back in his groove. We've got him for three more years after this.

    "He's going to get better and better. This is just the beginning."

    Manly's Origin centre Steve Bell has become one of Lyon's closest mates - and supporters.

    "He's fitted in wherever we've needed him," Bell said.

    "He's done extremely well. It's been a privilege to play with him. A lot of the criticism has been unfair. We've been winning games and he's been playing great - I don't know what the problem is with some people. He didn't let anything get to him and now we're in the grand final. It's pretty hard to argue with that. He can't have done much more.

    "He's showed a lot of character. He just came back stronger from the stuff he copped and that shows the type of player and bloke he is. He's played the house down, in my opinion. If people underestimate him, good. Let them do it."

    Lyon gets panned. His opposite number from the Storm, Greg Inglis, gets nothing but praise. Lyon has scored more tries than Inglis this year, made 146 more tackles, slipped 23 more offloads. So many other NRL five-eighths get their names up in lights. Their seasons ended a while ago.
    Source: The Sun-Herald
     

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