So League Express readers were right.
In a pre-Grand Final poll, we asked who would win the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match.
Thirty one percent of respondents said Jonny Lomax, and sure enough, the long-serving St Helens star got the nod from the watching press pack (he earned eleven votes, with Jack Welsby the next highest with seven) after playing a key role as his side created Super League history by beating Leeds to land a fourth successive title.
This was a sixth Grand Final appearance for the 32-year-old one-club man who made his debut in 2009 (he wasn’t selected for the showpiece in his fledgeling season, then missed out in 2014 due to one of a string of bad knee injuries).
But it’s the first time he has taken the Harry Sunderland award, following in the footsteps of fellow Saints Luke Thompson (2019), James Roby (2020) and last year’s winner Kevin Naiqama.
There were several contenders this time, notably team-mates, prop Matty Lees and halfback Welsby (second-top of our readers’ poll with 13 percent), and eye-catching Rhinos second rower Rhyse Martin.
But it was influential pivot Lomax who pulled the most votes as well as the strings for Kristian Woolf’s side.
Apparently, there’s a popular Saturday-evening show back on our television screens.
But as far as Rugby League fans were concerned, the focus was strictly on Old Trafford, and Saints fans were delighted as Lomax picked apart previously in-form Leeds with the kind of gusto with which Craig Revel Horwood dissects a dance performance.
He set his stall out early doors, deceiving the Rhinos’ defence with a show-and-go and darting through to set up the supporting Lees for the quickest-ever Super League Grand Final try.
It was a lead his side weren’t to lose, and having had an extremely consistent campaign, Lomax didn’t let his standards drop on the biggest stage in the club game in this hemisphere (and hopefully a bicep injury won’t prevent him from producing the goods for England in the World Cup).
He had a hand in most of the good things Saints did – and there were many – he dictated their style of play, his defence was excellent with a string of crucial tackles as Leeds were largely frustrated, and his kicking game was highly effective, with the Rhinos regularly made to work hard to deal with the end of Saints’ sets.
Lomax’s response to his bicep problem typifies his determination to deal with injuries.
He suffered a serious concussion as a junior and has had three ACL knee operations.
“If I go back to 2014-15, I probably thought my career was done,” he admitted.
“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.”
On the World Cup, Lomax explained: “I don’t know decision-wise what’s going on with that.
“I’ll speak to the medical team and everyone will review it over the next few days. Obviously, we’ll go from there.”
Harry Sunderland Trophy voting:
Jonny Lomax 11
Jack Welsby 7
Konrad Hurrell 4
Agnatius Paasi 1
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