Sea Eagles want to send Lyon out on top
Manly veteran Steve Matai wants to send his long-term centre partner Jamie Lyon out on a high after Sea Eagles captain Lyon announced on Wednesday he'll retire at the season's end.
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett gathered his players together at the team's hotel in Newcastle prior to their 16-point win over the Knights on Anzac Day so that Lyon could deliver the news.
"That's when we found out he was going to hang up the boots after this year. It was a pretty emotional time and Baz (Barrett) got a bit teary," Matai said.
"I'm a bit sad to see my centre partner go but [former Manly teammate] Joe Galuvao always said he's not retiring, he's graduating. I'm very happy for him that he's made his decision and that he can now focus on his footy."
Lyon's retirement will end an illustrious 17-year, 350-plus game career having made his debut for the Eels in 2000.
The 34-year-old has represented New South Wales 10 times and played eight Tests for Australia – despite retiring from representative football six years ago.
A controversial end to his time at Parramatta saw him head overseas for a two-year stint at St Helens. Lyon was named the English Super League's Man of Steel in 2005 and backed that up 12 months later with grand final and Challenge Cup victories.
Lyon has since spent the past decade at Manly, playing a huge role in the Sea Eagles' grand finals victories of 2008 and 2011.
"It's a massive loss for the club. Killer is a champion fella, champion bloke, and it's up to us to send him out on the best way we know and that's by winning," Matai said.
"We come against the benchmark this weekend (reigning premiers North Queensland). They won the competition last year so we're all going to have to be on our game from now on."
On his retirement, Lyon said the state of his body and mind was telling him the time had come to pull the curtains on his career.
"I know it's time. I've been playing for a long time now and the body is getting achy and it's hard to get up for a little bit," Lyon said.
"Rugby league is the only thing I've really known so it's going to be a bit different around the household. I've been speaking to my family for a while now about [retiring] and it's good that it's out there now I suppose.
"I'd been thinking about it here and there since last season and Baz wanted me to hang around and play another year but the body and the mind has been telling me it's the right time now."
So what's left for the knockabout bloke from Wee Waa who's achieved everything rugby league has to offer?
"I just want to play well for the boys and the club. I just want to get as many wins as we can and play some good footy," he said.
"We have some good players here now and we haven't quite scratched away at our potential. There's plenty to do this year yet including getting into the finals and giving them a bit of a shake."