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Disappointed Demetriou determined to play on

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George Riley George Riley | 14:34 UK time, Friday, 18 June 2010

Speaking to me on his hands-free telephone as he drove home from Wakefield training this week, club captain Jason Demetriou admitted his head was in a spin.

In the week it emerged that the Wildcats were calling time on Demetriou's seven-year stay at Belle Vue, I discovered a 34-year-old absolutely gutted to be leaving the club he calls his family.

"I wont lie, it's been a very tough week in my life," said the Australian-born Greece international. "I don't want to leave Wakefield - I never have - and this has hit me hard in the stomach, but I completely understand and respect Wakefield's decision. I'm getting on in age, and it's their call not to keep me on."

As understanding as he is of the call to offload him, Demetriou insists his hunger to play is still burning brightly.

"I'm starting to play a lot better and I feel I'm good enough on and off the pitch to have warranted a new deal," he said. "I wanted to sit down and talk to them about coaching, too, maybe a combined playing-coaching role for next season but they've got other ideas and I respect that."

Demetriou is the heartbeat of Wakefield, a hugely popular and gutsy performer, epitomising the 'triumph in the face of adversity' attitude that has become the club's mantra over a troubled last few seasons.

And the veteran says he is a little upset about how his Belle Vue career was ended.

"The one regret I do have about this is that after the service I've given to Wakefield I wasn't even told the news by the club," he said. "There were no talks, I just found out from my agent as we sat down to discuss our options for next year. It would have been nice if the chairman had talked to me about it personally. I heard nothing from the club and still haven't but I fully understand and accept their decision."

Jason DemetriouDemetriou is considering a move back to Australia

Demetriou admitted he was not surprised and felt the decision had been coming. Indifferent form at the start of the season and some uncharacteristic handling and decision-making errors have not helped his cause.

When Wakefield ground out a victory at the Twickenham Stoop on the opening day of the season, I interviewed him on the pitch right after the hooter. He had just blown a late two-on-one break down the right, opting to go on his own rather than pass for a potentially match-clinching score. That was all he would talk about and he was really beating himself up.

"I've been at the club a long time and know you've got to earn contracts," said Demetriou. "My form was a bit dodgy at the start of the year but last month it picked up and I'm putting in some big performances. I'm in the top 25 metre-makers in Super League this year so I clearly put in a lot work both in the forwards and centres. I play 80 minutes a week, rarely miss a game and I'll give my next team as much passion as I've given for Wakefield."

Passion is one thing Demetriou does not lack even if the legs may be going. He admits he has been through more as Wakefield's leader than he could ever have imagined as a professional sportsman, including guiding his team through the grief that followed the deaths of good friend Adam Watene and young forward Leon Walker.

"I hope the Wakefield fans remember me for giving everything," said Demetriou. "I have had some of the best and worst moments of my life here and when my career ends you can guarantee I'll be back on the terrace at Belle Vue with the fans. I came over as an overseas player and your team-mates become your family. Winning our first game of the season after Adam's death, and wearing his number eight shirt in front of our fans at Wigan, is a memory I will never forget."

Demetriou's goal is to stay in Super League but he tells me he has not yet had any approach and is considering his options in Australia. "I was always planning to sell my house in Normanton anyway and just rent for one more year before I go home," he said.

Demetriou has two young children, with a third on the way, and tells me he wants them to grow up in Australia. "I'd like to coach back home and I've already got a mate circulating my CV in the ARL," he said. "I'd like to work in rugby league development in schools, plus I'm a printer by trade so I've got that to fall back on if all else fails."

As we chatted, it was obvious I was talking to a man who has hardly had any sleep all week, but there seems to be another pressing concern that has dominated his mind.

"Me and the Wakefield boys are spending half our time in the dance studio at the moment," he said matter of factly. "My testimonial year has already seen a Ladies Night and now we're trying our hands at panto. The Wakefield Theatre is going to host our version of Snow White on 5 and 6 July, with such future stars of Broadway as Sam Obst, David Solomona, Damien Blanch, Steve Snitch and Matty Blaymire treading the boards!"

Wakefield have won just one of their last seven Super League fixtures but it seems the toes are twinkling off the pitch. "We're rehearsing twice a week and all the players are really nervous, trying to learn their lines," added Demetriou, who said Snitch fancies himself as the next big thing in British acting.



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