'Christ the Redeemer': Eccentric Tom Lineham out to resurrect Wakefield Trinity career
The first challenge is to determine what is fact and what is fiction.
Asked to sum up his first year at Wakefield Trinity, he says: "Yeah brilliant, it went really well.
"I've come back now resurrected. Christ the Redeemer, Michael (Carter, chief executive) is calling me. I'm back from the brink."
The eccentric winger had played only seven games for Wakefield when he was shipped out on loan to Featherstone Rovers.
A storyteller to rival heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, Lineham explains how he found a kindred spirit in McDermott.
"Honestly, all that stuff about Featherstone was genuine," he insists.
"Brian McDermott is a really out-there character. I love people like that; normal is boring.
"There was a Netflix series about a guy climbing a mountain and the previous record was 18 hours. He was told it couldn't be done without equipment and boom, he does it in two hours and smashes the record.
"I went up to Brian afterwards and told him I liked that story and asked him what the highest mountain in the world was before Mount Everest was discovered.
"He started going through them all: Kilimanjaro, mountains in the Himalayas, the K2.
"I said, 'No Brian, it was Mount Everest. It just hadn't been discovered yet'. I could tell I'd got him then."
It was no ordinary punishment when McDermott sought retribution.
"He told us it would be raining in Barrow that weekend so he put the sprinklers on and made us do passing waves," Lineham continues.
"He ended up taking it off and it was like a fire hose because you can imagine the sprinkler system to do a full-sized pitch.
"So he takes it off and is jetting us down when we’re doing three on one. He took particular pleasure in absolutely drenching me.
"This is the first drill of the session. I play the ball, all the lads are laughing and I'm absolutely sodden head to toe.
"Sunday comes 23 degrees, no rain. He told me that was for being a clever ****."
It would be fair to say Lineham did not enjoy the same kind of relationship with his former Wakefield coach Willie Poching.
Pushed on whether there was a personality clash after an initial 'no comment' response, Lineham says: "I'm a bit marmite – you either love me or hate me. I'm not everyone's cup of tea.
"It could have gone the other way with Brian. The first phone call I had with him he said, 'I've heard you're a bit of a weirdo' and I said, 'I've heard you're a bit of a weirdo'. We spoke for half an hour and instantly clicked.
"I had a great relationship with my previous coach Steve Price at Warrington. With coaches we're either best mates or there's nothing there."
Poching was sacked in September despite keeping Trinity in Super League, paving the way for assistant Mark Applegarth to take the reins.
Lineham has had a spring in his step since returning to the club, quite literally.
"I first played with Mash in 2009 at York when I was a young whippersnapper," he says.
"I've always got on well with him. He's got the gig now and I'm back ready for a good second year.
"My first year at Warrington wasn't the best. I think sometimes I get a bit giddy and enjoy myself making lots of new friends.
"But there's a new speed demon in town over 30m. They say, 'he's 31, a washed-up winger' but the timing gates don't lie.
"I'm the new record holder with 3.99 seconds. They were like, 'It can't be right, it can't be right' so I did it again and got four seconds dead.
"Motor moron can't do any of the other speed drills around coordination but when it's a sprint I'm boom like a bullet out of a gun."
Behind the bravado lies a player desperate to prove himself after seeing his hopes of making an immediate impression dashed by a knee injury.
"It was a really bad injury actually," says Lineham. "It was an MCL grade three. As soon as I did it I could diagnose myself because I've got an ability to self-scan.
"What I did miss is there was a 20 per cent tear in the ACL so it could have gone at any point.
"I was out for 12 weeks and when I came back I think I was bigger than Dave Fifita. It took me until July to shed the weight. Nine kg gone in the air somewhere.
"I'm back from the brink. Sometimes you need a year like that to freshen you up a bit."
Lineham has two years left on his contract at Wakefield as he primes himself for a 12th season in Super League.
In his own inimitable way, he stresses that he has much more to give.
"I was with a woman in the pub the other day who thought I was 26," says the former Hull FC winger.
"It's the hair because less than one per cent of men can grow hair like this. Remember Samson? They chopped all his hair off and he lost his strength. His hair grew back and he was pulling down buildings, a bit like me.
"My pace is back and my strength. I'm back from the dead."