St Helens nab Jamie Lyons

St Helens coach Ian Millward on Tuesday declared Jamie Lyon the biggest signing at the English Super League club since Mal Meninga became a cult figure at Knowsley Road 20 years ago.

Lyon, who walked out on Parramatta earlier this year, confirmed he would head to the north of England next season on a lucrative two-year deal.

"I am raring to play for the Saints, particularly as I will be linking up with Darren Albert, the quickest winger in the British game," Lyon said on the St Helens website.

"St Helens impressed me with their clear ambition to remain a leading world rugby force and they stood out from all the clubs which showed interest in me, even in Australia."

Lyon was in the sights of several NRL clubs including the Wests Tigers and Manly.

However, Parramatta refused the Sea Eagles permission to talk to the former NSW and Australian centre while the Tigers couldn't match St Helens' offer.

"This is the biggest signing for St Helens since Mal Meninga," Milward said.

"Jamie is already a world class strike centre and can only improve. This is a huge boost for the club and a clear sign of its intentions to remain the most successful rugby league club in Britain."

Meninga scored 28 tries in 31 games for St Helens and is still regarded as a legend at the club.

And the Saints are relying on Lyon having a similar affect next season.

The 22-year-old, who has played five games for the Blues and five Tests for the Kangaroos, turned his back on the Eels earlier this year citing his desire to return to his hometown of Wee Waa, where he has spent the past few months playing for his local club.

Bearing that in mind his decision to head overseas came as somewhat of a surprise - you can't get much further from country NSW than the north of England.

But Lyon's manager Mick Smith says he's confident the former Parramatta and Australian rugby league centre will see out his contract with St Helens.

"He's expressed a desire to try a different culture," Smith said on Tuesday.

"He wouldn't have gone unless he wanted to go through with it."

It's understood the English club outlayed $150,000 to clear Lyon - who has spent the past two days pig shooting - of his existing contract as well as $600,000 for the next two years.

Asked whether Lyon would return to the NRL at the end of the contract, Smith said: "It all depends on how much he likes it.

"If he goes over and likes it he might want to stay. He's pretty easy-going. He'll get to know blokes pretty quick.

"But I reckon he might want to come back in two years."

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