JONNY Lomax has been through more than enough to know he is mentally ready to help St Helens become the best in the world.
Something he definitely was not the last time they had a tilt at the World Club Challenge.
Back in 2015, when Saints were whacked 39-0 by South Sydney, he was more fearful that his knee would give way.
But having bounced back from that – and another cruciate ligament problem – he feels ready to tackle Sydney Roosters head on, with being part of England’s run to the 2017 World Cup final helping.
Lomax said: “I’m a lot fitter – last time I was four games in from an ACL reconstruction, and the game after that it re-went.
“From my own point of view I’m in a totally different place physically and mentally. That might be through age or experience and being challenged through those tough times brings you out the other side stronger.
“That’s where I am now – a lot more level headed and that’s benefitted me in playing.
“When I played in 2015 I was probably in a mindset where I was questioning whether my knee and my body was right and for a few years those definitely linger in the back of your head.
“People say that while it takes six to nine months to get back on to the field after an ACL, it’s more like 24 months to really get over the injury.
“When you take that into account – and it’s probably something that is overlooked, the mental aspect of getting over injuries – I’m reaping the benefits of that now.
From my own point of view I’m in a totally different place physically and mentally.”
St Helens star Jonny Lomax
“I’m confident and that confidence allows you to play more freely on the field and concentrate on the job in hand and experience definitely helps.
“In the Roosters side they’ve played in and won these games and that helps them, whereas I try and deal with the now a lot more. Things change and you have to be ready and adaptable for what’s coming.”
Lomax and St Helens faced climbing a mountain to conquer the Roosters, who have won the NRL two years running and are current World Club Challenge holders, even before injuries hit.
But Kristian Woolf’s side will be without Great Britain star Lachlan Coote and Welsh wonder Regan Grace. If England star Mark Percival defies a shoulder injury to play he will be trading the line between bravery and stupidity.
Lomax, however, will not be bowing down to Trent Robinson’s side in awe as he insisted: “There are two ways of looking at them as the benchmark – one is where you bow down to them and that’s not what any team wants to do.
“The other side is going into a game with less pressure and scrutiny on yourselves and it’s an opportunity and a challenge. That’s a good thing at times.
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“Certainly last year we definitely felt the pressure as a group to produce the goods week-in week-out, and that’s something going into this game that’s slightly different for us.
“Consistently they’ve been at the top – whether they’ve won the competition over in Australia or they’ve been challenging. That’s what great sides do.
“We talk about benchmarks and they probably are the pinnacle in terms of what they’ve achieved in recent years. The brand of rugby that they play, the set-for-set mentality and keeping the ball in play in a battle of attritional style, is how I believe the game should be played at times.
“But the magnitude of the game doesn’t matter. It just so happens that on Saturday there’s more riding on it than a week-to-week Super League game.
As a team we try and take the field to win every game we can – sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.”