Last year Manly centre Jamie Lyon did not want to represent his country because of his kids but now they are a major motivation.
Lyon will run out for the Kangaroos on Friday night’s Test against New Zealand in Melbourne, watched in the stands of AAMI Park by his two young sons, five-year-old Riley and three-year-old Jed.
It is a moment the boys would have missed if Lyon’s request early last year to the ARL for exemption from representative matches had been successful.
Joining his Kangaroos team-mates as they prepare in Melbourne Lyon, who has played seven Tests since 2001, said he was now relieved the application had been knocked back.
“I think now that a few years down the track I would have regretted it,” said the 28-year-old.
“It’s definitely worked out for the better.”
A country boy from Wee Waa in north western New South Wales, he wanted exemption to spend more time at home with the family.
“I’ve got two young boys and it means you have to be away from home quite a bit,” he said.
“But I think they love the footy just as much as me now.
“They get in front of the TV and run around and tackle each other in their jerseys.
“I wouldn’t have heard the end of it from my older son if I wasn’t playing.”
The laid-back Lyon did not want to be drawn into the non-selection of Brisbane young gun Israel Folau due to his plans to switch codes, but thought he himself may have missed a chance to play Test football again after last playing in 2007.
“I wasn’t too sure, I thought I might be a chance for Country, that’s up to the selectors and I was happy with their decision,” he said.
“I thought it had passed but I was lucky enough to get another chance.
“When you get the opportunity it’s a massive buzz to pull on the jersey again, it’s going to be unreal.”
Test coach Tim Sheens’ preference for Lyons to mark his Manly team-mate Steve Matai botched plans for the Sea Eagles co-captain to play five-eighth for Country Origin, with a view to the NSW Origin line-up.
Country Origin will play City Origin in Port Macquarie, also on Friday night.
Lyon said he would happily take on the playmaking role for the Blues, if called upon.
“I’ve played five-eighth a little bit for Manly, I’m more accustomed to centre but if I’m picked I’ll try my best.”