Lyons named in NRL Hall of Fame

Former Leeds player Cliff Lyons has been named as one of the six new inductees into the NRL Hall of Fame announced this week.
He becomes the ninth former Leeds player to be included in the 106 players now in the NRL Hall of Fame. The first 100 were announced to celebrate the first 100 years of Rugby League in Australia back in 2008. That included former Leeds players Joe ‘Chimpy’ Busch, Vic Hey, Arthur Clues, Ken Kearney, Ken Thornett, Eric Grothe, Andrew Ettingshausen and Bradley Clyde.
The other five new inductees are Ricky Stuart, Petero Civoniceva, Gorden Tallis, Steve Menzies and Mark Graham, with all six inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony at the Sydney Cricket Ground on August 1.
Voted in by 25 independent judges from a cross-section of rugby league, the six stars polled the most votes from a list of 25 hopefuls, which included another former Rhino in Danny Buderus, who made the cut from the original long list of 100 names. Between them, the six have played almost 1,500 first-grade rugby league games, 118 Tests for Australia or New Zealand and 90 State of Origin games for their respective states.
Lyons was a former Manly captains and still holds the record  for most games played for the club with 309 from 1986 to 1999. He  won two premierships with the club and has a Clive Churchill Medal (1987) and two Dally M Medals (1990, 1994) to his name.
Unpredictable, magisterial, will-o-the-wisp, nuggety and Wild West moustachioed; Cliff Lyons was destined to be a star from the minute he arrived at Headingley. Narrandera’s finest possessed all the qualities beloved in a Leeds stand off, not least because he was box office, and in two short spells, cemented himself as one the fondestly remembered overseas players to don the shirt.
When he first arrived in 1985-86, looking something like a cross between a sheriff and a country rock star, the imperious reign of John Holmes in the position of most influence was beginning to come to an end and Lyons seemed the perfect bridge to the next era. The contrast in status between his two spells could not have been more marked.
He arrived as an unheralded North Sydney player having initially moved to Cronulla and first come to notice here playing against the 1984 Lions tourists for the Riverina district, at centre. There were those back home, who while recognising his unquestionable talent with the ball and ability to put his team mates into gaps, worried that his size would count against him but they reckoned without his innate toughness. He served notice of his qualities on debut for Leeds, running in a hat trick as Keighley were put to the sword 60-12 at Headingley in the second round of the Yorkshire Cup , his drop goal the following week seeing off St Helens as the Loiners maintained a six match undefeated start to the campaign.
Dovetailing with compatriot centre Tony Currie, he switched between the half back roles and was at his absolute finest in the big matches, scoring tries against the New Zealand tourists in narrow defeat and was superb in four consecutive games against Widnes in March ‘86, the last the Challenge Cup quarter final replay here, won 5-0; his drop goal crucial.
The semi final, at Elland Road against Hull K.R. was also drawn, he again landing a one-pointer , and dispensation was sought for him to extend his stay for the Thursday following replay which was lost. In all, his 29 appearances yielded 16 tries and four drop goals.
His return to Leeds for the 1988-89 campaign was much awaited and started in sensational style with the Yorkshire Cup triumph in his seventh game back in blue and amber.
He was at his imperious best at Elland Road, taking the attention of the Castleford pack with relish and engineering the second half points spree with a series of controlling kicks and astute passes among the breakneck pace, to win the White Rose Trophy. In a total of 24 matches, he posted another eight tries, his final appearance coming in Challenge Cup quarter final defeat at home to Widnes in front of over 26,000 fans.
They will be formally inducted at a Hall of Fame ceremony at the SCG on August 1. Up to two new Immortals will also be announced and inducted as part of the gala.
The six inductees will join the 100 Hall of Fame members who were automatically inducted as part of the centenary celebrations in 2008.
The final ballot of 25 hopefuls is as follows:
1 Bob Linder
2 Cliff Lyons *
3 Craig Young
4 Danny Buderus
5 Denis Flannery
6 Elwyn Walters
7 Gorden Tallis *
8 Greg Alexander
9 Ian Moir
10 Jack ‘Bluey’ Watkins
11 Kevin Walters
12 Mark Graham *
13 Michael O’Connor
14 Paul Harragon
15 Peter Dimond
16 Petero Civoniceva *
17 Ricky Stuart *
18 Rod Reddy
19 Rod Lynch
20 Royce Simmons
21 Ruben Wiki
22 Stacey Jones
23 Steve Menzies *
24 Steve Renouf
25 Wally O’Connell