General Jamie Lyon's behind closed door deals


Jamie Lyon's $2 million deal with Manly is believed to hinge on recruitment officer Noel Cleal remaining at the NRL club.

A secret clause is believed to have been inserted into Lyon's contract with the Sea Eagles after the club beat a host of rivals to the former Eels signature.

Lyon's friendship with Cleal has been credited as a major factor in his decision to sign with Manly.

While 24-year-old is tied to the Sea Eagles until 2010, it's understood the deal could be jeopardised should Cleal leave the club beforehand.

"I can't confirm the confidential special conditions of his contract - he is very close to Noel Cleal, but I can't confirm that," Lyon's manager George Mimis said.

Cleal, the former Eels recruitment manager, was responsible for discovering Wee Waa product Lyon and convincing him to leave the country to join the Eels.

They have been close ever since, with Cleal stating it was unlikely Lyon would have chosen a rival NRL club after deciding to return to Australia.

"I think that's been pretty well documented," Cleal said of their association.

"He's best mates with my eldest (son) and all of that - we were always going to be hard to beat."

Asked if he was aware of the clause in Lyon's contract, Cleal said: "I don't know about that one."

Currently starring for St Helens in the English Super League, Lyon was still contracted to Parramatta until July 1 this year after walking out on the Eels in March 2004.

The Eels were hopeful Lyon would return for another stint with the club but he signed a four-year deal with the Sea Eagles instead.

Manly is confident there will be no repeat of his controversial exit from Parramatta, even with the clause in his contract.

"Not in the slightest," acting CEO Paul Cummings said last week when asked if he had any concerns about the manner of Lyon's departure from Parramatta.

"I don't want to go on with what happened at other clubs, but obviously if a player left like that to us, we would be disappointed too."

Asked about the clause in the contract, Cummings said: "I don't discuss contracts, we have a contract with him for four years and that's where it stands."

Manly has the option of playing Lyon at centre or five-eighth, positions in which he has starred this season for the Saints.

The Sea Eagles already boast one of the NRL's top centre pairings in Queensland representative Bell and New Zealand's Steve Matai, while the club has also re-signed pivot Travis Burns for next year.

"A player of his quality, he can play in the front row if he likes," a coy Cleal said.

"You can always lose one, come Origin time or at Test time with Matai - there's always the chance of losing someone for a while.

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