Injury set to rob Lyon of Brookvale farewell
Jamie Lyon has all but confirmed his NRL career is over with a hamstring injury set to keep him sidelined for Manly's final two matches of the Telstra Premiership season.
The Sea Eagles skipper told media at Tuesday morning's press conference that he re-aggravated the injury at the start of the captain's run on Friday and was no chance of a home-ground farewell at Brookvale Oval against the Raiders this weekend.
"I'll be trying to get back for the last game but it's probably not looking the best. A bit of a hamstring injury which is pretty hard to shake. It's pretty frustrating, but it is what it is," Lyon said.
"I've done the injury before so I know what it's like. It wasn't the best of timing, but that's footy, and it's part and parcel of the game.
"I would've loved to have been out there with the boys and have one last game at Brookie. It would have been great, but I've had a lot of games over the years at the ground and played with some great players so I'm privileged to be a part of the club."
While he remains an outside chance of playing against the Panthers in Round 26, Lyon's unavailability this weekend is a cruel blow for a man who has given so much to rugby league.
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett knew there was a problem when he saw the 294-game veteran go down on Friday, and immediately feared the worst.
While he won't join his teammates on the field on Saturday afternoon, Barrett said the players owed it to the club great to send him out a winner in front of his home fans.
"We'll still do the right thing by Jamie and make sure he goes out how he should," Barrett said.
"He's been a great player for a long time – and just short of 300 career games – and without the injury probably would've got there this year.
"His career needs to be celebrated. He'll go down as one of the club's greatest players, and certainly one of the game's greatest centres in my opinion."
Having played with and against him in the early 2000s, Barrett described Lyon's help throughout his first year as an NRL coach as "invaluable".
"We always knew what a good bloke he was, but he's a terrific leader as well," he said.
"He's captained the club to a premiership, and the respect he holds around here… you can tell the presence he has. He's not a player that says a lot, but his actions speak louder the words.
"Probably the best thing about 'Killer' is his humility, and he's never changed. He's always remembered where he's come from and I think that's why people like him so much.
"He's a terrific role model for our young blokes and a great leader. He's someone I want the younger players in our squad to adopt the qualities that Jamie's got."
Lyon's contribution has been so profound that Sea Eagles Chairman Scott Penn described the 34-year-old as one of the best centres to represent the club.
"The great thing for us is that we've benefited from his skills," Mr Penn said.
"He's helped us to four grand finals, two premierships, a World Club Challenge, he was four time Dally M Centre of the Year, and two times Dally M Captain of the Year. He's one of the most humble blokes you'll meet."
Penn recalled the elation he felt when whispers emerged that Lyon would be joining the club in 2007; something most people thought impossible after he stunned the rugby league world three years earlier when he sensationally left the Eels.
"Once I finished up at Parra, that was it," he recalled.
"I pretty much retired then and I wasn't even thinking about playing; just some local footy for Wee Waa Panthers and that was it.
"I got a phone call from Ian Millward in England, and was asked to go over there for a couple of years and I had a great time.
"I really got back in touch with the game, so I owe a lot to (St. Helens) Saints and obviously Manly and Parramatta over the years. That got the juices flowing again."
There were no tears on Tuesday morning as he reflected on his wonderful career, but get the tissues ready when Lyon hears Eagle Rock for the last time this weekend.
"I haven't had the last day at the ground yet so that might be a little bit different," he said. "It's obviously sad to finish up, but it's something I'm looking forward to."