Exciting year ahead for St Helens ace Jonny Lomax

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Jonny Lomax is hoping for a highly successful 2019, both on and off the field.

Saints' long-serving stand-off recently launched his testimonial year and faces a hectic 12 months as he combines playing his chosen sport with a host of fund-raising social events.

Marrying the two will be a new kind of challenge but I expect the level-headed England international to take it all in his stride and nothing would give him greater pleasure in what will be an
unforgettable and momentous year in his life to be part of a St Helens' side which brings home at least one piece of major silverware.

It will more than make up for the heart-breaking experience of losing in both the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup and the end of season play-offs.

''Ultimately, we have to look on those defeats as failure,'' said one-club man Lomax, who made his senior debut in a 42-18 victory at Wakefield Trinity in 2009.

He said: ''We definitely want to avoid similar feelings during the forthcoming season because there is nothing worse than sitting next to your team-mates in a dressing room speechless when you have suffered defeat.

''It was a little upsetting at the time but there was positives as well from the season and we need to move forward with that mindset.

''We cannot dwell on the past too much and appreciate what you can learn from those setbacks.''

Until Ben Barba arrived last year Lomax had occupied the full back berth before switching to stand-off to accommodate the Aussie and he is hoping head coach Justin Holbrook will retain him in that position.

''You are always close to the action, see a bit more of the ball and I enjoy playing there,'' said the 28-year-old.

He certainly saw his fair share of the ball during his testimonial match against Hull FC at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Saturday - St Helens winning 28-18.

More than 4,000 fans turned up on a cold afternoon to salute Lomax who wants to place on record this thanks to those hardy souls present.

It was Saints' only hit-out before they entertain arch-rivals Wigan Warriors in the opening fixture of Betfred Super League XXIII on Thursday, January 31, and Holbrook was pleased with the way it went.

He said: ''It was a good game in which we moved the ball well and were sharp in both attack and defence

“Everyone did well, but probably the most important thing other than the new boys getting their first run outs was the return of Alex Walmsley who missed most of last season with a serious neck injury.

''It was great to have him back and the way he played was reminder of his capabilities.''

Teams - St Helens: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Matty Lees, Zeb Taia, Dominique Peyroux, Morgan Knowles. Interchange: Danny Richardson, Joseph Paulo, Kyle Amor, Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Luke Douglas, Adam Swift, Jack Ashworth, Aaron
Smith, James Bentley, Matty Costello, Joe Batchelor, Josh Eaves, Jack Welsby, Tom Nisbet, Josh Simm.

Hull FC: Jamie Shaul, Bureta Faraimo, Josh Griffin, Carlos Tuimavave, Matty Dawson-Jones, Jake Connor, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Masi Matongo, Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello, Dean Hadley. Interchange: Brad Fash, Jack Brown, Jordan Thompson, Jez Litten, Danny Langtree, Jordan Lane, Jack Logan, Cameron Scott, Hakim Miloudi, Levy
Nzoungou, Ratu Naulago.

Saints tries: Taia (21), Makinson (28, 33), Grace (39), Swift (55), Smith (60).
Goals: Coote (1/3), Makinson (0/1), Richardson (1/2)

Hull FC tries: Tuimavave (23), Shaul (72), Faraimo (79).
Goals: Sneyd (3/3)

Referee: Chris Kendall
Attendance: 4,621.