Dragons won’t look at swap deal for Lomax: Flanagan

Jasper Bruce |

Shane Flanagan has panned noise that the Dragons are interested in a player swap for Zac Lomax.
Shane Flanagan has panned noise that the Dragons are interested in a player swap for Zac Lomax.

Coach Shane Flanagan has shot down suggestions Zac Lomax could be traded from St George Illawarra before the end of the season as part of a player swap.

The news comes as Trent Robinson confirms the Sydney Roosters will not bid for the centre when he is released from the final two years of his contract at the end of this campaign.

On Tuesday, weeks of agitation from Lomax’s camp culminated in the Dragons granting the State of Origin prospect his wish for an early exit.

“We can’t have people that don’t want to be here,” Flanagan said ahead of Friday’s clash with Newcastle.

“We’ve worked hard to turn him around. It just hasn’t happened so we’ve got to move forward.”

The decision has freed up roughly $1.6 million of salary cap space, with the club firm on not pitching in any of Lomax’s pay packet for 2025 or 2026.

The Dragons have since been linked with Penrith’s off-contract winger Sunia Turuva, who could be a like-for-like replacement for Lomax after Flanagan shifted him to the wing this season.

Melbourne prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona, languishing in reserve grade, appears another option for a St George Illawarra pack that could use with some punch in the middle.

“We haven’t identified one particular player as yet,” Flanagan said.

“(The release) has all just happened in the last week or two. We’ll assess the market and once again make a good decision for the club.”

One thing is for certain; Flanagan will not entertain a mid-season player swap despite a Dragons club statement suggesting otherwise this week.

“There’s no player swap going on,” Flanagan said.

“Zac’s here for the rest of the year, I don’t know where all that’s come from.

“Hopefully this is the last time we speak about it because this is not news. This has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks. All the people I talk to are dead-set sick of it.”

Zac Lomax.
Zac Lomax attempts to beat a Dolphins defender during a recent NRL clash in Brisbane. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Lomax has already been linked with a move to Parramatta, who could use another elite centre to play opposite Will Penisini in the back-line.

The Roosters will not consider making an offer for Lomax despite losing current first-choice centres Joey Manu and Joseph Aukuso-Suaalii to rugby union at the season’s end.

“We’ve got the centres that we want,” said coach Robinson.

“We still need to add a couple of outside backs but not in that price range.”

Lomax had an unhappy 2023 under former coach Anthony Griffin, punctuated by a move from right centre to the left, a stint in reserve grade and a lacklustre spell with the kicking tee.

The frustrations continued this year after Flanagan moved Lomax to the wing to begin the season, though the 24-year-old has emerged as one of the Dragons’ best through four rounds.

Flanagan said he and Lomax were on good terms and that the issues dated back long before the season began.

“There’ll be stories going around that we’ve had arguments. There’s been none of that,” Flanagan said.

“It’s gone on for a number of months, it went on from last year. It’s a decision the club has made and Zac and ourselves will move on.”

The Dragons announced on Thursday they had extended Francis Molo’s contract for another two seasons, with the former State of Origin prop now tied to the club through 2026.