JAMIE LYON intends to finish his career at Manly after knocking back a mammoth $3 million-plus deal to immediately join the Gold Coast.
The Titans are desperate to add a strike centre to their line-up after releasing Beau Champion and missing out on Michael Jennings, who signed with the Roosters on Tuesday. Gold Coast officials initially approached Lyon, off contract at the end of the year, about joining them in 2014. However, they fast-tracked their plans in the hope of snaring him immediately with a four-year offer, one of the biggest tabled in NRL history.
However, Lyon said his goal was to finish his career on the northern beaches and hit out at speculation that he wanted an immediate release or had agreed to the Titans’ offer.
”I don’t want to move at all,” Lyon said. ”I just want to get the right story across from the start. I don’t know why they’re going on about this. I was always going to finish this year here and I’ve always wanted to stay long-term. The [Titans] rang up because they’ve lost Champion and are trying to find a centre, so they’ve come to us. At no stage were we going to go up there. We didn’t ask for a release at all, it all got blown out of proportion.
”Originally they said they wanted me for ’14 or ’15, so we said ‘no worries’ and listened to them. And then they said 2013 – and that’s no chance at all. The next minute they’re saying that I’ve asked for a release. I didn’t meet [Titans coach John] Cartwright, didn’t do anything. It must have come from the Titans, they are obviously the ones pushing it. I’ve got this year and I want to stay here longer. Even though they are throwing big money, I want to be here.”
Social media sites went into meltdown on Friday as speculation raged about Lyon’s intentions. The Manly co-captain met Sea Eagles officials to assure them there was no substance to the rumours and the club subsequently put out a press statement to placate concerned fans. The 30-year-old also addressed his teammates about the latest developments.
”I spoke to them all this morning before it all came out, so they knew what was going on,” he said. ”I spoke to Jason King and told him all about it [afterwards]. I didn’t think it would blow out of proportion like this.
”It probably affects [my family] more than me. Especially if people are picking up the paper down the street, it would leave a bad taste in their mouth even though they don’t know what’s going on. One of the big reasons I want to stay is we’ve got a good, strong team and they are really good mates of mine.”
The developments will add further spice to the round three fixture between Manly and the Gold Coast at Skilled Park on March 23. There is an estimated 230 players off contract at the end of the year, with many of the topliners holding off until there is greater certainty about the salary cap in future years. Lyon headlines a list which includes Jarryd Hayne, Mitchell Pearce, Robbie Farah, Todd Carney and Josh Reynolds.
However, the Titans raid could play in Manly’s favour, with the 2011 premiers set to open contract extension talks soon. ”I think I’ve got three or four more years in me and I’m enjoying my footy here with my best mates. I’ll stay as long as I can – as long as Manly will have me anyway,” Lyon said.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.