'The gifted one' knocking on Origin's door

Matt Buxton

Brad Fittler was three years ahead of the pack when he described Zac Lomax as ‘the gifted one’ in 2017.

Lomax has pulled something out of his seemingly endless bag of tricks at will in season 2020; whether it’s a Matt Gidley-like flick pass to set up a try, plucking an impossible bomb out of the air, or doing it all himself with a kick and re-gather.

He’s been up there with the Dragons’ best players since they completely turned their fortunes around, and Fittler is definitely keeping his eye on him. 

The NSW Pathways Program has already unearthed several State of Origin players in Cameron Murray, Nic Cotric and Payne Haas, and now the next set of rising stars, including Lomax, is knocking on the door given how influential they have become at club level. 

“Hasn’t he been fantastic? He’s been a real go-to,” said Fittler on Five with Freddy.

“They scored in the first set of six the other day when they put a bomb up for him and he did one of those spectacular catches we all know he can do. 

“He just seems like he’s really focused at the moment, he’s concentrating on the field and it’s really enjoyable watching him. 

“Him, Bradman Best and Campbell Graham are the kids that we had only a couple of years ago in the Pathways; they’re all regular first graders having an impact on the winning and losing which is what it’s all about.

“I wish Zac all the best going forward.”

Not only does ‘the gifted one’ have all of the tricks in general play, he’s also the Dragons’ goal-kicker.

In the NSW Under-18s Origin game in 2017, only a few days after Fittler nicknamed him, he kicked five goals for the Blues and nailed the match-sealing field goal in the dying seconds. 

When asked if Lomax’s goal-kicking would come into calculations for any potential Origin selection, Fittler explained that he once had to re-do his entire team when he realised there was nobody who could kick with confidence. 

“Without a doubt, goal kicking helps incredibly, and I remember we were picking a team and at one stage it was like ‘Oh where’s the goal kicker, we’d better pick another team,’” Fittler said.

“You can’t really go into a big game without a recognised goal kicker; you’ve got Nathan and Mitchell and a few of those jobs that do a fantastic job at goal kicking.

“Without a doubt it’s definitely won or lost games in the past.”​