Welcome to first grade: GI left immediate impression on Dragons tyro
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Welcome to first grade: GI left immediate impression on Dragons tyro

In the first moments of his NRL debut, Zac Lomax was tasked with trying to stop Greg Inglis.

It was round 10, there was little time left on the clock and Inglis was on the fly. The South Sydney legend had just regathered a kick and the only thing standing between him and the try line was Lomax.

Welcome to first grade.

“I think it was just right at the end, there was a bit of an overlap down the edge and what I clearly remember is trying to push ‘GI’ over in the corner, but they ended up getting the try,” Lomax recalled.

Tough start: Greg Inglis crosses in the corner to welcome Zac Lomax (background) to the top grade.

Tough start: Greg Inglis crosses in the corner to welcome Zac Lomax (background) to the top grade.Credit:NRL Photos

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Lomax could get another crack at Inglis, one of his heroes, when St George Illawarra take on South Sydney in their first finals meeting since 1984. Dragons coach Paul McGregor is yet to make a call on the final make-up of his back line as Euan Aitken and Jason Nightingale attempt to prove their fitness, but given Lomax’s performance in the win against Brisbane, coupled with his goal-kicking ability, there is every chance the 18-year-old will be handed the daunting assignment of again attempting to keep Inglis quiet.

To be fair to the teenager, there was little he – or anyone else, for that matter – could have done to stop Inglis so close to the line during their Indigenous Round meeting. Which is why McGregor had no qualms picking him last weekend to face Brisbane in front of a hostile crowd in just his third first-grade appearance.

“I am still unsure whether I will play – that is entirely up to Mary” Lomax said.

“If Euan plays, he showed what he can do against ‘GI’ earlier in the season, but I can do the job if I do get the nod.

“I guess watching footy, he is someone I looked up to especially because I play centre and fullback, so he is someone to base your game on – he is big and powerful.”

Big challenge: Zac Lomax at training on Wednesday.

Big challenge: Zac Lomax at training on Wednesday.Credit:Adam McLean

The uncertainty over his selection isn’t the only distraction Lomax will have to contend with. His girlfriend, Jessica Sergis, also plays for the Dragons in the new women’s competition. Last week Lomax witnessed Sergis be concussed just moments before he ran onto Suncorp Stadium.

“I just thought, ‘Oh, geez’; it was a pretty good collision,” Lomax said.

“I guess the other chick was able to brace herself, which was good for her. I went in and checked on Jess and she was pretty out of it. She was knocked out before she hit the ground.

“I got to check up on her and she is all good now, so she is just looking forward to the next game.”

Lomax, considered one of the most promising outside backs in the game, had to bide his time in his quest for a second NRL match.

“During the year, I think it was the week after I debuted, I was thrown into a boxing session just to get a bit more fitness," he recalled.

“We were sparring and I threw a hook and it just connected wrong on one of the other boys. I fractured my scaphoid and I got surgery on it a few days later and I was out for eight weeks.”

The Dragons are again outsiders against the Rabbitohs, despite their demolition of Brisbane. Not that Lomax is concerned.

“I guess everyone is talking about [South Sydney’s] left edge, but the Dragons showed earlier in the year how they can shut them down,” he said.

“I am sure the coaching staff will come up with a pretty good game plan around that.”

Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.