Super Rugby Pacific: Hurricanes prop Tyrel Lomax's journey from All Blacks snub to scrum star

Tyrel Lomax's journey from All Blacks snub to starting prop at Twickenham within six months can be credited to just simply backing himself.

Lomax, 26, was a glaring omission from coach Ian Foster's squad for the mid-year series against Ireland, but grabbed his recall with both hands to end the year as the first-choice tighthead.

The Hurricanes front-rower has played 23 tests since his 2018 debut, but has struggled for an extended run in the No.3 jersey.

After several dominant displays in black, including monstrous scrummaging performances against South African and Australia, Lomax seems to have finally found his feet at international level.

He will make his first start of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season, replacing veteran Owen Franks in the front row to play Melbourne Rebels on Friday.

Lomax admits to being too hesitant in his first few years in the All Blacks environment, but his exclusion from the Irish series allowed him time to reflect and find some much-needed belief.

"Just backing myself," he said. "With the All Blacks, I was a little bit stand-offish in my first few years - you just go in there, and try and not put a foot wrong.

"Obviously not making that Irish series, I was able to sit back and have a think about what I needed to do to get back in there.

"Part of that was just going in there and backing myself, not being scared to make mistakes, and putting the consequence away and just play rugby."

Lomax has previously spoken about All Blacks coach Jason Ryan's impact on his game, but he doesn't need to look past his very own Super Rugby side for advice.

The Hurricanes prop will make his first Super Rugby start of the season on Friday.
The Hurricanes prop will make his first Super Rugby start of the season on Friday. Photo credit: Photosport

With former All Blacks prop Jamie Mackintosh as Hurricanes set-piece coach and 108-test Franks still playing, there are plenty of examples to follow.

"Jamie Mackintosh has been awesome," said Lomax. "He's [only] a few years retired, so he's still fresh and knows how the game's been played at the moment.

"[Just having] Owen around and seeing how he operates has been really good for our front row, who are all quite young, and Jason Ryan's results speak for themselves. He's an awesome coach."

Lomax and the Hurricanes will be eager to continue their unbeaten start to the season, with another win against Australian opposition.

Following their dominant victory over the Reds, they will face a hurting Rebels outfit, after their opening loss to Western Force.

Lomax expects a physical game against a strong Rebels pack, but believes the Hurricanes front row is more than up to the challenge.

Tyrel Lomax in action for the All Blacks
TJ Perenara & Tyrel Lomax share a hongi with the All Blacks. Photo credit: Photosport

"Obviously, having that experience coming off the bench helps, so I can just go out there and do my thing, and last as long as I can, and [Franks] can come on and finish the game strong," he said.

"Obviously, we've got Colesy [Dane Coles], who's one of our most-capped Hurricanes, and Xavier [Numia], who's had a really good pre-season and obviously a really good first game. We've got a good starting front row and a good reserve front row.

"They've got a pretty big back and they've got some really good ball-runners in the forwards. We just [have to] meet them and match them in that area, and let our backs do their thing."

Join Newshub at 10pm Friday for live updates of the Melbourne Rebels v Hurricanes Super Rugby Pacific clash