Waiting game for frustrated Tyrel Lomax as contract negotiations continue
Tyrel Lomax's New Zealand rugby career remains in limbo as he continues to negotiate his release from the Melbourne Rebels.
The Highlanders and Tasman have signed the 21-year-old 127kg prop for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, and although his Rebels contract has a year to run and he had previously represented the Australian under-20 and schoolboy national teams, Lomax is now committed to a long-term future in New Zealand.
But his return to the playing field has been stymied as he awaits news of his pending release.
Lomax has been in Nelson for the past week and in full training mode with Tasman's Mitre 10 Cup squad. And while he's clearly frustrated by his situation, he understands the nature of professional sport.
READ MORE: Lomax joins Highlanders
"I'm just waiting, taking it day by day and seeing how we go," Lomax said.
"It just depends on the replacement [the Rebels] can get for me so they can release me, so it just depends on what happens with the Western Force I think. It is a business and [the Rebels have] got to fill up their numbers for next season and that's their number one priority at the moment."
The NSW Supreme Court recently dismissed an appeal by RugbyWA to keep the Western Force in Super Rugby after the franchise was expelled from next year's competition. Despite the ruling, RugbyWA are likely to continue their fight for the Force to survive.
"It's just day by day, it could be tomorrow, it could be in a week, it just depends how things progress."
Lomax made his Super Rugby debut for the Rebels this season and will remain contracted to the Australian club next season unless he can negotiate an early release.
He is the son of former Kiwis and Canberra Raiders, North Queensland Cowboys and Melbourne Storm rugby league prop John Lomax.
Although born in Canberra, Lomax grew up playing league in Wellington, but switched to rugby when his family moved to Australia. He was named in Michael Cheika's' original 48 man Wallabies squad for 2017 before withdrawing.
Ironically, Tasman are facing something of a propping crisis with Siua Halanukonuka (foot) and Ryan Coxon (ribs) both still on the injured list and Kane Hames and Tim Perry both called up to the All Blacks following a season-ending shoulder injury to Joe Moody last Saturday.
"It's frustrating, but it's good. I've spent the last week back in a team environment which has been good. So I'm happy to be back training.
"I haven't played for a few months now so I'm ready to get back on the field and play again ... hopefully that's quite soon."
It's clear though that Lomax is determined to see out his career in New Zealand.
"I decided this was where I wanted to play my rugby long term and decided to sign with Tasman and the Highlanders for the next few years.
"This year at the Rebels was quite tough, really tough actually, but I took a lot from it and gained a lot of experience and got to play some good minutes.
"I guess this is home, it's where I'm from and where all my family is and it's where my parents will end up in the next few years. It's just where I feel myself playing my rugby for hopefully the next 10 years."