Written by Callum Walker
One of Super League’s greatest imports, Jason Demetriou, is a household name – particularly in West Yorkshire – but he never had it all his own way.
Born in Sydney, Australia, Jason Demetriou first made his way to the UK in late 1999 where he played for the now-defunct Lancashire Lynx and Rochdale Hornets. It was at this time that Demetriou played two games for Canada in the 2000 Emerging Nations World Cup.
From Rochdale, Demetriou joined Widnes in 2001, where he played a huge role in the Vikings’ promotion to Super League that year, so much so that he was named the second division’s Overseas Player of the Year. It was this move to Widnes that saw him finally get noticed on a greater scale.
In three seasons with the Vikings, the utility man – Demetriou could play centre or back row – registered 54 appearances, scoring 17 tries and kicking one goal.
It was Demetriou’s move to Wakefield in 2004 that established him as one of Super League’s most consistent players. In seven seasons, Demetriou racked up 188 appearances for the Wildcats – as they were known then – scoring 75 tries and kicking ten goals. For five of these seasons, Demetriou captained the club and, in doing so, became the first Australian player to captain a Super League side without having NRL experience.
In 2007, as well as being named as Wakefield’s Player of the Year, Demetriou was named in that year’s Super League Dream Team and shortlisted for the prestigious Man of Steel award alongside Trent Barrett and the eventual winner James Roby as his performances made him a hugely-valued member of the Wakefield squad.
Often hailed as one of Wakefield’s greatest ever imports, Demetriou left the club at the end of 2010 after enjoying his testimonial year at the club to become player-coach of League One side Keighley Cougars, despite previously agreeing with York City Knights.
In his first season, Demetriou guided the Cougars to promotion to the Championship. For Keighley, he played 25 times, scoring ten tries before returning home to Australia in 2013.
Demetriou played a key role off the field for Wakefield, working with the Wildcats Community Department in schools and external programmes. And, in awful circumstances, the utility man took a lead role in the club’s response to the untimely deaths of club-mates Adam Watene and Leon Walker in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
In the same season as Watene’s death, Demetriou ended up on the sidelines for a lengthy spell with a spinal injury which could have paraylsed him.
At 6ft and just under 90kg, Demetriou was athletic and physical; often dubbed as one of the “hard men” in Super League, the Australian gave blood, sweat and tears for Wakefield, playing 25 out of 27 games for Trinity in 2009 despite being told he needed knee surgery early on in the season.
Though a hard, aggressive player on the field, Demetriou was both humble and respectful off it and Wakefield fans will look back in fond memory of their adopted Sydneysider.