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Jack Welsby backs Jonny Lomax for England call after Grand Final heroics

Jonny Lomax is preparing to play through the pain barrier to help England’s bid to win the Rugby League World Cup, according to his St Helens team-mate Jack Welsby.

Lomax was coy about his chances of making Shaun Wane’s squad after delivering a man-of-the-match performance as Saints beat Leeds 24-12 at Old Trafford to become the first team to win four back-to-back Grand Finals.

The 31-year-old half-back has battled through the season despite a ruptured bicep he sustained during Saints’ Super League win over Salford in April, and will consult with the club’s medical staff once the celebrations end.

St Helens v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – Grand Final – Old Trafford
Jonny Lomax led from the front as St Helens sunk Leeds Rhinos (Martin Rickett/PA)

Welsby, who is almost certain to earn his own place among England’s halves after another inspiring performance at stand-off, insisted: “We forget that Jonny has had a bicep injury since round 11.

“The realistic thing to do if he’s got any concerns would be to get it re-conned, but he’s not that type of person and I’m sure he’ll be putting his hand up to play for England.”

Lomax made an instant impression by sending Matty Lees over for the fastest ever Grand Final try and orchestrated proceedings throughout to become a deserved winner of the prestigious Harry Sunderland Trophy.

St Helens v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – Grand Final – Old Trafford
Jonny Lomax battled through the pain barrier for St Helens (Martin Rickett/PA)

His arm injury is just the latest setback of a painful career which began with a serious concussion as a junior and has also required three ACL surgeries, the worst of which made him question his future in the sport almost a decade ago.

“If I go back to 2014-15, I probably thought my career was done,” added Lomax. “I told my dad I was quitting and I didn’t want to go through it again.

“It sounds a bit dramatic but that’s how it was. I got the surgery but I couldn’t see myself doing the rehab. But I ended up doing it and as I got closer to the time for returning, I was feeling pretty good and I thought I’ll see how I go.”

Lomax’s decision to hold off surgery was made easier when Saints lost fellow scrum-half Lewis Dodd for the season with an Achilles injury in the Good Friday game against Wigan, and his resilience typifies Saints’ surge to their unprecedented Grand Final quadruple.

“We spoke about what we wanted to achieve in the pre-season and I wasn’t going to let something that I might be able to manage throughout the rest of the season affect us achieving our goals,” said Lomax.

“If Doddy was available it probably would have been an easier decision on how to go about the rest of the year, but with Doddy gone and with us carrying another couple of bumps, it was about doing what’s best for the team.”

Despite his team-mate’s expectations, Lomax refused to be drawn on his World Cup chances, saying he would prioritise celebrating another milestone success and the victorious send-off for departing coach Kristian Woolf.

“I don’t know decision-wise what’s going on with that,” Lomax insisted. “I’ll speak to the medical team and everyone will review over the next few days. Obviously we’ll go from there, but in the meantime that won’t be on my mind, it will be to celebrate our incredible achievement.”

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