Manly are set to open negotiations with captain Jamie Lyon for 2014 and beyond after blocking a bid by Gold Coast on Friday to poach him for the coming NRL season.
The Sea Eagles confirmed they were approached with an offer by the Titans and Lyon’s manager, but deny their star centre actually asked for a release from the final year of his contract.
Lyon issued a statement claiming the negotiations for an immediate move were happening without his knowledge, pledging his full commitment to Manly for this year.
Lyon’s future beyond this year is up in the air, but he’s confident the speculation would not affect the team.
“Unbeknown to me, the Sea Eagles, then my manager received an unexpected offer for me to join the Gold Coast team immediately,” Lyon said in a Manly statement.
“My loyalty and commitment to Manly remains uncompromised and I look forward to season 2013 with the Sea Eagles.”
Sea Eagles general manager of football Steve Gigg said Lyon was contracted until the end of the season and would not be seeking an early release.
Gigg said the Gold Coast were “testing the waters” with their approach and were told in no uncertain terms that Lyon was off limits for 2013.
He said reports that Lyon had asked for a release were “completely incorrect”.
Gigg revealed the Sea Eagles would “commence negotiations soon” with their skipper to extend his current deal.
It’s understood Manly’s salary cap is tight and Lyon’s departure would obviously free a lot of money.
But Lyon is arguably the premier centre in the game and Manly have made it clear they will do everything possible to keep the former NSW and Test representative at Brookvale.
Gold Coast earlier this week missed out on the signature of Michael Jennings, who linked with the Sydney Roosters.
Titans chief executive David May made it clear last week his club was in negotiations with other star centres should the Jennings deal fall through.
Gold Coast reportedly offered Lyon a four-year deal and it’s clear the club has plenty of money to spend on a quality centre.
News Limited reported on Friday that Lyon had agreed to a “deal in principle” with Gold Coast and was meeting with Sea Eagles management to ask for a release from the final year of his NRL contract.
Lyon walked out on Parramatta midway through 2004 before moving to the English Super League for two seasons.