How Saints plucked Jamie Lyon from Wee Waa back to the big league

Jamie Lyon celebrates his try for Saints against Huddersfield
during the 2006 Challenge Cup final at Twickenham, London

Jamie Lyon celebrates his try for Saints against Huddersfield during the 2006 Challenge Cup final at Twickenham, London

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Saints didn’t exactly find Jamie Lyon under a bush before resurrecting his top level rugby league career, which was in danger of imploding during the early years of the new Millennium.

More a case of discovering his undoubted talents wasting away in the Australian Bush and subsequently playing a major role in helping a player who, at 22, had seemingly become disillusioned with life as a professional at NRL club Parramatta Eels to rediscover a thirst for big time rugby league.

Jamie Lyon training with Manly Sea Eagles ahead of the World Club Championship

Jamie Lyon training with Manly Sea Eagles ahead of the World Club Championship

Now some 12 years on the Manly Sea Eagles’ skipper, who officially hangs up his boots at the end of the season, will be the first to acknowledge his eternal gratitude to St Helens and in particular their chairman, Eamonn McManus, for giving him a ‘second chance’ at the highest level and paving the way for even greater success on his return home, including two NRL Grand Final victories.

From working behind the bar pulling pints in a local bowling club and also filling in his time playing for his county club Wee Waa Panthers, he was suddenly whisked across the globe for a two-year stint at Knowsley Road which turned out to be like a story straight out of Boys’ Own.

By the end of the 2005 season, the super centre had scored 22 tries and 42 goals, becaming only the fourth non-British player to win the coveted Man of Steel award, named RL Players’ Association Players’ Player of the Year and was selected as one of that year’s Super League Dream Team.

The accolades continued to flow in the following season as he helped Saints to win both the Challenge Cup and the Super League title and again found himself as a member of the Dream Team.

Something of an enigma throughout his career - and not the easiest of people to understand at times - Lyon, now 34, did all his talking on the pitch and Saints’ fans, quite rightly, elevated him to the same podium as other club legends like Alex Murphy, Mal Meninga, Paul Sculthorpe, Sean Long and current head coach Keiron Cunningham.

Just a pity he only stayed at Knowsley Road for two seasons!