SAINTS rising star Jonny Lomax isn’t one to run away from a challenge.
The 21-year-old is exceeding expectations as a utility-back, and is strongly tipped as a future England talent.
But whatever the demands of Super League, Lomax knows he has already faced much tougher matches.
Aged 14, he was forced to undergo open skull surgery after a sickening head injury, while playing for a local amateur side.
Use of the headguard was made compulsory in all under-16 matches as a result of Lomax’s clash of heads with an opponent during a schoolboys match in 2005, when he suffered a blood clot to the brain, and was grateful for the swift actions of neurosurgeons in saving his life.
“The head injury doesn’t affect him – Jonny’s that tough he wouldn’t think about it,” said Saints performance manager Mike Rush.
“He doesn’t mind other people talking about it, but he’d rather not talk about it himself because he knows how traumatic it was for his parents at his bedside.”
After making a recovery, Lomax continued to play for Wigan side Orrell St James before being signed, aged 16, to St Helens.
“He started with us at 10 and he’s been the best player in his age group all the way through,” added Rush.
“He’s a remarkable athlete in many ways – he came back from a knee reconstruction in four months.”
Lomax has been outstanding this season at a variety of positions, and he’s being strongly tipped by teammates to make the step up to international level.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Jonny is the type of player England need,” said St Helens team-mate and current England international Jon Wilkin.
“He’s involved in the England set-up already with the Knights, and so he’s familiar with this environment. I’m sure he will make the step up very shortly.
“He’s fantastic. If you go through the check list of what you are looking for in players in Jonny’s position, he ticks all the boxes.
“He has speed, deception and the ability to make the right pass or take the right option.
“Probably the only thing he’s short of this year has been games, because he’s been missing for four or five weeks.
“I think Jonny is a great young player with a massive future.”