THE combination of NRL signings, the benefits of international exposure and another year for key youngsters is the mixture that could propel Saints that extra mile in the hunt for silverware in 2019.

But half back Jonny Lomax believes that is underpinned by the hurt that the players felt after traipsing from the pitch after losing their second semi-final of a campaign they had stormed through from February.

Back in training after a very short four-week break from rugby, Lomax is looking forward to his eleventh year - and testimonial season - with relish but no shortage of motivation.

The 28-year-old said: “You can’t dwell on defeat, but you have got to learn from that and realise what you can do better and appreciate the hurt.

“You have to take that with you there is going to be a stage this year where we are going to need to remember that hurt.

“I don’t want to feel like that again.

“If all the individuals feel like that, then there will be an extra drive.

“It was great for us four England boys - we had the hurt of that Saints loss but the following week we could put our minds on to something else.

“But it does not go away and there will be a time we need to draw on that feeling in the new season.”

2018 was a fine year for Lomax, who moved back into the halves to accommodate Ben Barba, and attacked the year with relish after coming in off the back of a strong World Cup campaign Down Under.

This performances saw him named as one of the magnificent seven Saints players in the Dream Team to underline the dominance of the regular rounds; a year in which they re-discovered their attacking flair and finished top of the table for the first time since 2014.

But after being front-runners for such a long time, that made the eventual fall in the last seven minutes of the semi against Warrington even harder to stomach.

And Lomax, and assistant coach Paul Wellens had a different coping mechanism at the Theatre of Dreams a week after their knockout.

“It had to watch the Grand Final because I was with the England camp by then - but me and Wello took ourselves away from the seats in the stand for the last 10 minutes because it does hurt watching it.

“The way the year ended hurt a lot, but by the same token there were positives.

“Over the year from the team, individual players, coaches and staff it was positive ­— but we have to get better,” he said.

And Lomax is looking forward to gelling with the new combinations - and is impressed with the players brought in.

He said: “We have recruited well from the NRL with Kevin Naiqama, Lachlan Coote and Joseph Paulo.

“Lachlan has made two NRL Grand Finals with North Queensland Cowboys and has spent the last eight or nine years playing with Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan.

“He knows his way around the field 100 per cent and is a silky player.

“He will be great for us.

“On top of that the young players we have are going to be a year older.

“Tommy (Makinson0 and Tommo (Luke Thompson) are now more experienced at international level and being in that environment with England teaches you something.

“At Saints there is competition all over the park and now another bunch of youngsters snapping at heels to try and get involved.

“All that combined will keep pushing us forward."