When Jade Anderson pulls on a Sea Eagles jersey, it is more than just about playing for himself and his club.
It’s also about honouring the memory of his late father.
In a terrible tragedy, Christopher Lyons was playing his first game of rugby league in 2010 for the La Perouse Panthers when he collapsed on the field.
He suffered a heart attack and couldn’t be revived.
Jade was just 13.
“Dad died at the age of 42 doing what he loved, rugby league,’’ Anderson revealed
“I couldn’t understand it all back then as I was only a kid.
“But as I got older, I promised myself that everything I do in rugby league, I will do it at 100 per cent and try to make my Dad proud.”
Today, Anderson’s family have every reason to be proud of the talented young Indigenous man..
Having joined the Sea Eagles in 2017 from the Canterbury Bulldogs, the young winger turned full-back had a dynamic season, playing a key role in Manly winning the Holden Cup Premiership.
His efforts saw him rewarded with a position training with the NRL squad. Prior to this, Anderson was mentoring boys aged 13 to 16 at the La Perouse Youth Haven.
“I was brought up by my Mum and my Nan. When it came to footy, they did everything for me. They took me to training and were at every game,’’ Anderson said.
“Seeing them so happy after our grand final win was such a surreal feeling.
''I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them. They are one of the main reasons why I play.”
A La Perouse junior, Anderson is related to Manly legend Cliff Lyons and former Souths, Penrith, and Balmain player Graeme Lyons.
The exciting young full-back, who turns 21 on January 29, says he only has to look at the rise of Tom Trbojevic from the Holden Cup to the NRL for further inspiration and self-belief.
“When I started pre-season training, the coaching staff told me about Tommy and how he was the same size as me coming through, so I know it can be done,’’ Anderson said.
“It is going to take some time and plenty of hard work to make it to the NRL, but I am in this for the long haul.”
Sea Eagles Coach Trent Barrett says Anderson has plenty to offer.
“Jade has first grade in him. He is fast and has got really good anticipation,’’ Barrett said.
“He reminds me a bit of (Melbourne winger) Josh Addo-Carr. He is blinding fast and like Addo-Carr, has got a bit of that Nathan Blacklock flair in him.
“Jade has done everything right. He had a great season last year and you can’t beat speed, and he has got plenty of it.
“He will get an opportunity in the NRL trials next month. I wouldn’t be afraid to play him in first grade if we needed him.”