Souths premiership-winning captain Richard Jones took a walk down memory lane this week when he addressed the club’s current grand final squad.
It has been 30 years since he held aloft the Newcastle Rugby League trophy after leading the Lions to victory over Lakes in the 1988 decider. Paul Merlo was the coach.
“Ultimately, it was a great season,” Jones told the Newcastle Herald.
This was the last time Souths and Lakes met in the competition’s feature event, before the two clubs reignite that rivalry and go head-to-head again at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
Jones, now chief executive officer of the Westpac rescue helicopter service, met with Ben Cross’ troops on Thursday night.
“One of the things I always insisted on was respect the opposition because they can damage you and always keep that in the back of your mind,” Jones said.
“Respect your teammates and always look them in the eye. Language is really important as well because it’s we not I, and I’ve noticed that with this group.”
It was the third of three straight grand final appearances in Newcastle for the Lions, who were initially upstaged twice by Lakes in 1986 and 1987.
Lakes second-rower Michael Pitman played in the latter two deciders, alongside the likes of captain-coach Peter “Spider” Walsh, future NRL stars Paul “Chief” Harragon and Steve Walters.
“I didn’t realise it had been that long,” Pitman said.
“We had a good run there at Lakes and some good battles with Souths.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.