Kristian Woolf pays ultimate compliment to Jonny Lomax ahead of test series

Drew Darbyshire
Jonny Lomax St Helens News Images Kristian Woolf

Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf has paid tribute to his former St Helens half-back Jonny Lomax ahead of this autumn’s test series against England.

Woolf worked with Lomax during his three seasons as head coach of St Helens between 2020-22, winning the Super League title each season.

Lomax, 32, missed out on playing in last year’s World Cup because of injury, but Woolf has no doubts his former playmaker would deliver on the international stage if selected by England boss Shaun Wane for this autumn’s test series against Tonga.

Woolf said: “I had three great years working with Jonny and all those guys at Saints, they are a great group and Jonny is certainly at the forefront of that.

“He’s outstanding to work with. There aren’t too many players that I’ve ever worked with that work harder than Jonny.

“He is a real credit to himself, he has had some massive things to get over in his career with injuries and people know his story about his brain injury.

“He is such a credit to himself that he got through all that and still plays at the level he plays at and prepares the way he does.

“I’d go as far as saying that I’ve never worked with a player who prepares as well as he does and does as much work as he does to keep himself on the field.

“That’s what you see in his performances, it means something to him and playing for St Helens means something to him.

“I’m not quite sure with where he’s at in terms of his international career and I’m not quite sure what Shaun Wane’s going to do in terms of a young team or an older team or a mixture, but I do know if Jonny puts his hand up that he’s going to be a very influential player.”

Kristian Woolf keen to show best version of Tonga this autumn

Tonga players Rugby League World Cup SWpix Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix

Woolf says his side want to show the northern hemisphere how good they really are following a disappointing World Cup campaign last year, which saw them bow out to Samoa in the quarter-finals.

Reflecting on the World Cup, Woolf said: “We’re really disappointed. We feel that we didn’t hit our potential throughout the World Cup.

“We did to some extent against the Cook Islands, that was a great result for us and a record result, but there were some levels there we knew we weren’t at if you go back to 2017, 2018 and 2019 and look at the levels we hit there.

“If you look at the squad we had, it was probably more talented than what we had in 2019 and that makes it a bit more disappointing.

“We just know that we didn’t quite play to our potential. It’s not about when you win or when you lose, it is about playing to our potential and that’s what we didn’t do. Doing that in the UK is something we’ve not done quite so well if you look at our history over the last 10 years, so that’s something we’ve got to learn how to do.

“The next World Cup isn’t in the UK but it is in that part of the world, so we need to learn how to get over there and play to our potential. That’s a big part of this tour and we certainly want to make amends for our disappointment in the World Cup.”

Tickets now on sale

The Rugby Football League have confirmed that tickets are now on sale for this autumn’s test series as they look to build on last year’s home World Cup.

Tickets are on sale now at from £25 adults and £12.50 Under-16s. A three-match bundle is also available from £52.50 Adults and £26.25 Under-16s.

The RFL say the series broadcasting and naming rights will be announced in due course.

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