When Brad Fittler compares you to himself, you know you're ready for an NRL debut.
As highly-touted Dragon Zac Lomax prepares for his first taste of the top grade in Round 10, he's been given the ultimate praise by the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach. Lomax, who has starred in the NSWRL Pathways program for the past three seasons, has been coached by Fittler at the under-16s and under-18s level.
Speaking on Five with Fittler, the 31-time NSW representative explained Lomax's impact on the junior team last season.
"In the '18s last year we really struggled, I thought we had a really good team but we just didn't put it together as a team," Fittler told NSWRL.com.au. "Zac Lomax and Payne Haas played a big part in winning the game. He (Lomax) went and kicked a field goal and set up the last try."
When it comes to making an impression as a teenager, few did it better than Fittler; the legendary five-eighth became the youngest-ever NSW and Australian representative in 1990, in what is considered the quickest-ever rise to Rugby League superstardom. Fittler's Test debut came when he was 18 years and 229 days old - just one day older than Lomax will be when he starts his NRL career on Sunday - and according to the now-46-year-old, it's not the only similarity.
"I've been dealing with Zac Lomax for a couple of years; he just loves footy," Fittler added. "He comes through with a similar mindset I think to when I was a kid - footy was your life.
"I'm not sure how he's been going in (Intrust Super Premiership NSW) but I know he's big enough, he's strong enough, he's fast enough. He's just got to go out there and put the team first and he'll be all right."
It follows similarly high praise offered by Fittler as Lomax prepared for Under-18s Origin in 2017:
"Zac is capable of doing anything; he's the gifted one," Fittler said. "It will be interesting to see where his career goes, but he's a really good footy player."
Primarily a centre, Lomax could yet fill a number of positions in his senior Rugby League career, but will debut off the bench for the Dragons in Sunday's game against the Rabbitohs. While it is likely to be a brief stint for his maiden game, all eyes will be on the reigning NSW Under-18 Player of the Year at ANZ Stadium.
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