Boom Dragons rookie Zac Lomax has taken a step towards fulfilling his dream of playing NRL alongside brother Hayden after securing the right centre berth for Sunday’s match against Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium.
It is the first time Lomax has been named at centre when Euan Aitken was fully fit and follows his impressive performance on the wing in last week’s 20-10 loss to the Sydney Roosters after playing three previous matches in the bench utility role.
Lomax’s goal-kicking has helped him force his way into the starting team in the absence of injured captain Gareth Widdop and he started on the wing in place of Mikaele Ravawale against the Roosters.
However, team-mates marvel at the confidence and composure he has shown in matches, including putting his hand up to kick the match-winning field goal against Brisbane.
The 19-year-old Junior Kangaroos star has been widely tipped for a long future in the NRL and he hopes to eventually get the opportunity to play alongside Hayden, who was the first of the brothers recruited by the Dragons and is one of the club’s six development players.
“The Dragons picked Hayden up first when he was 13 and I was his brother so they saw me the year after and then they sort of signed us both,” Lomax said.
Hayden, who plays in the forwards, is recovering from a knee injury but is also held in high regard by St George Illawarra officials after winning the club’s 2016 SG Ball player of the year award and playing 35 matches in Under 20s over the past two years.
The brothers played most of their junior league together for Temora Dragons and were also team-mates with the Thirroul Butchers after moving to Wollongong when Zac was in Year 10 at high school.
“I was playing Harold Mats (U16s) and Hayden was playing the bottom age of SG Ball (U18s), and then we went and played for the Butchers,” Lomax said.
“Me and Haydo played Under 18s together there and we played a little bit of first grade together in our second year so that was good.
“It’s been our goal forever to play NRL together, we have spoken about it for a while now and hopefully that will happen in the future. Hayden has had a bit of a knee injury but he had a really good pre-season.
“Obviously that day would be unbelievable if it come so I have got to keep playing consistent footy and when Hayden is ready to go I am confident he is going to put in a few good performances.”
Try of the week: Round 7
Confidence is an attribute that Lomax does not lack and those in Illawarra rugby league circles still talk about the day he made his first grade debut as a skinny 16-year-old and walked on to the field with the ball in the assumption he would take the kick-off.
He displayed the same confidence when thrust into action in the 74th minute of the Round 3 match against Brisbane after Widdop had injured his shoulder and Broncos captain Darius Boyd scored to level the scores at 24-24.
Forced to fill in at fullback, Lomax safely defused several high kicks and team-mates said he got himself into position on the opposite side of the ruck to five-eighth Corey Norman and volunteered to take a shot at field goal on the last tackle of the match.
Hooker Cameron McInnes passed to Norman and he kicked the field goal to win the match 25-24 but Lomax said he would have no hesitation putting his hand up for the job again.
“Normy has been hitting them unbelievable so I think from here on in he is going to be the No.1 field goal taker but if that situation does come around I’d be comfortable to be able to do that,” Lomax said.
“You practice that sort of stuff and when you get your chance you don’t want to be a fish out of water. Whatever situation you are chucked into you have got to be ready to go and do what is best for the team. You have just got to back your ability and be confident in yourself.
“I am confident in myself because of the team-mates I have got around me. They make me extra confident and they bring the best out in you because of the faith we have in each other.”
Lomax will start at right centre against the Eels, with Ravalawa recalled to the wing and Aitken selected on the interchange.