In-form Lomax wants to leave Dragons: Ben Hunt

Jasper Bruce |

Dragons skipper Ben Hunt says Zac Lomax wants to leave the club but has still been their top player.
Dragons skipper Ben Hunt says Zac Lomax wants to leave the club but has still been their top player.

Ben Hunt has revealed Zac Lomax is still hoping to leave St George Illawarra despite the club moving to bar the winger from negotiating with NRL rivals.

Hunt, who had his own release request blocked last season, praised Lomax for persevering through the disappointment of his positional switch to cement himself as the club’s best player through two rounds.

New coach Shane Flanagan moved Lomax to right wing in the pre-season to allow Jack Bird to return to the centres opposite Moses Suli.

The highly touted Lomax, primarily a centre through 95 first-grade games, has been dissatisfied by the move to the wing and was linked with a transfer to Parramatta amid the impasse.

But the Dragons made it clear no release would be entertained for Lomax, who is on a big-money contract at the joint venture through to 2026.

Ben Hunt (pic) has been offering support to Zac Lomax as he was in a similar position last season. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Hunt found himself in a similar situation last season when he hoped to secure a release from the final two-and-a-half years of his contract after the Dragons sacked coach and close confidant Anthony Griffin.

The Saints eventually talked their captain down, but he has been quick to check in on Lomax through his own ordeal.

“Zac and I, we talk a bit,” Hunt said.

“I’m aware that he does want to leave but he’s not showing that he’s unhappy and he seems like he’s enjoying himself to me. 

“Whenever he wants advice, he knows that I’m always happy to give it. He’s very open Zac, and he’ll always ask for something if he needs it.”

Hunt was quick to point out that Lomax had been in fine touch on the right wing for the Dragons through the opening two weekends of the season.

He ran for a game-high 265 metres in the 28-4 win over Gold Coast, scoring a try, and was again his side’s top metre-eater in the hefty 38-0 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday.

“I think he’s been our best player the last two weeks, to be honest,” Hunt said.

“I can’t fault either of his games. He definitely wasn’t the reason we lost (against the Dolphins).

“Whether he likes the position or not, he’s doing a bloody good job of it.”

Hunt even suggested the new position could be Lomax’s chance to finally make good on his potential as a NSW State of Origin prospect.

Lomax has long been rated a future Origin player with new Blues coach Michael Maguire reportedly contacting him this week.

NSW Origin coach Michael Maguire (2-l) has reportedly been in touch with the Dragons’ Zac Lomax. (Belad Al-Karkhey/AAP PHOTOS)

“He’s definitely the type of player that I reckon ‘Madge’ would like,” Hunt said.

“‘Madge’ is really well known for his hard work and (liking) players that always give 100 per cent effort and that’s what Zac is.

“It’d be silly if ‘Madge’ wasn’t looking at him.”

Hunt admitted the latest loss to the Dolphins had raised old concerns about the direction in which the Dragons were heading.

But the 33-year-old, who pushed for a mid-season move home to Queensland last year, was firm on staying put as the club navigated the start to Flanagan’s tenure.

“(Doubts) always pop up in the back of your head whenever you have a loss, no matter what it’s like, things like that,” he said.

“It always tries to creep in. But I’m staying positive.

“I’m here at the Dragons. I’ve put my head down in the pre-season, I’ve tried to stay hard and get us back on track. 

“I felt like we were doing that, obviously we had a big hiccup on the weekend but my focus is on getting us back into the finals.”