Jonny Lomax faces yet another psychological barrier as he licks himself into shape for the start of the new First Utility Super League campaign.
The Saints’ full-back will line-up against the Catalans Dragons at Langtree Park in the club’s opening fixture of the new season on Friday night wary of fact that the last time he locked horns with the French outfit he suffered serious knee ligament damage and missed the last 14 fixtures of 2014 season, including the 14-6 Grand Final victory over arch-rivals Wigan Warriors.
Since then, however, Lomax has undergone intensive rehabilitation and also tested his knee in the build-up to the new campaign, which included high-profile friendlies against both Widnes Vikings and Wigan Warriors and, thankfully, came through virtually unscathed.
Now he has firmly set his sights on helping Saints retain the Super League title after featuring in the sides which suffered Old Trafford heartbreak against Wigan Warriors in 2010 and Leeds Rhinos the following year.
‘’It would be the icing on the cake for me if I picked up a winners’ ring but as defending champion we will find it even harder to retain the trophy,” he said
‘’Every team will want to put us down a peg and with most having recruited well the task will be more difficult than ever but I believe we have the players capable of bring more silverware to the club.’’
Despite having to sit out last year’s Old Trafford Grand Final, Lomax was able to view the spectacle from a different perspective.
‘’Naturally, I was gutted to miss out on the biggest game of the year but at the same time it was nice to enjoy the occasion as an emotionally involved fan again, knowing that I couldn’t influence the game, because sometimes when you are playing, you don’t always take everything in, you are so caught up in the game.”
The result - and the team post-match celebrations - also helped to lift Lomax’s spirits as he battled to overcome his season-ending injury. They were dark days,’’ he admitted. ‘’As a sportsman you don’t want to be told you have suffered cruciate ligament damage. It’s the one you dread most and in my case the second I’d suffered but the previous one was on the other leg.
“I was just happy to get back on the field in pre-season after such a long lay-off because here are times when you worry you’re not going to return.’’
He added: “It was a bit of a relief, knowing the knee stood up well. It was nice to get some metres back in the legs and take a bit of contact. The more I play, the more I will become confident with the knee.”
But at this stage the 24-year-old is looking no further ahead than club rugby and not adding international honours to his CV.
Lomax said: ‘’All I want to do is to get back playing my club football. I think everyone’s goal is to represent their country, which is the supreme honour, and I’m no different. But at this moment in time all I want to do is pull on a Saints’ shirt in Super League action and after that I’ll just see where we go.”