Jonny Lomax would shine out as a rare gem if his favourite saying “Diamonds are made under pressure” was applied to Super League.
This is a player who came through an horrific childhood trauma that doctors feared he might not recover from.
He not only survived but thrived as one of our game’s brightest talents – only to be struck down three times with major knee injuries.
But, despite plunging into despair at times, Lomax has faced down every challenge and stayed at the very peak of the game.
And now, with Super League about to restart, the St Helens and Great Britain star cannot wait for the next chapter in a career that’s both glittering and alarming.
The 29-year-old, via BetFred said: “You grow as a person when you have setbacks, whether that’s in life or in sport.
“Everyone has bumps along the way in life but if you keep making the same mistakes you do not become mentally stronger.
“There is a great saying ‘Diamonds are made under pressure’ which I like because I believe you have to be challenged to become a better person.”
Remarkably Lomax only discovered last year just how serious the first major challenge of his life was, when he suffered a head injury as a 14-year-old playing school rugby.
Lomax knew he’d had emergency brain surgery, after fracturing his skull which led to a major bleed when an artery was damaged.
But dad Ian and mum Alison, a nurse, decided not to scare him with the truth of how bad it was.
He said: “It was kept from me how serious it was. I kind of understood but I wasn’t told of what the consequences might have been if the operation hadn’t been a success.”
Lomax’s parents were warned his life was touch and go and even if he did pull through they didn’t know what quality of life he’d have.
It’s easy to appreciate their relief when the surgery was declared a complete success. But it’s an awful lot harder to imagine whether you could match their strength in letting him play again.
Lomax said: “Parents just want their kids to be happy and the big thing that made me happy was playing rugby.
“It would probably have been easier to stop me and wrap me up in cotton wool but they put my happiness first and I appreciate that so much.”
Lomax, who has worn protective headgear in every game since, has gone on to have the sort of success he could only dream of as a kid.
He helped Saints win Super League last year and few celebrated the enormity of the success as much as him.
He had missed out on their 2014 Grand Final glory after having his knee reconstructed – the first of three ACL injuries that wiped out much of 2014 to 2016.
He said: “There have been some really tough times and sometimes I did think ‘why me?’ but when I look back I can reflect that everything happens for a reason.
“Everything that has happened has helped me grow an awful lot. You realise what is important – rugby is important, but my missus Megan, son Finn, family and friends are the most important.”
Lomax started a physiotherapy degree after he did his ACL for the third time and says it’s helped his body deal with the stresses of top flight rugby better.
He said: “It’s given me a better understanding of what works for me. I’m in the third year of four and it’s helped me a lot.”
St Helens have had a fairly constant turn-around of coaches in Jonny Lomax’s 11-year career at the club but he insists he’s learned from all eight.
He said: “I will always be thankful to Mick Potter because he gave me my first chance in the team and to Royce Simmons who gave me my chance at half back.”
Those two were followed by another Aussie in Nathan Brown before home-grown favourite Keiron Cunningham took over.
Current chief executive Mike Rush and Kiwi Jamahl Lolesi also had spells in temporary charge with Justin Holbrook bringing the good times back in 2018 and 2019.
Lomax said: “Keiron Cunningham was a legend at the club and I held him in such high esteem and from Lolesi I learned a lot about playing full back.
“Under Justin we had such a great time, in terms of winning, and now we’ve got Kristian Woolf in charge who’s bringing new things. He’s big into looking after the person as well as the player.
“We’ve also got Paul Wellens as assistant and he was an idol for me growing up so it’s great to have him on the coaching staff.
“It’s quite difficult to pick out one above the others because they all offer you a different perspective. The important thing is to keep learning off them all.”
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