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“I was strapped to a hospital bed and had these handcuffs on” – Super League star calls for men to open up as he sheds light on difficult time

Tim Lafai may be one of the best and most effective players in Super League, but the Samoan international has done things tough to get here.

The Salford Red Devils star woke up strapped to a hospital bead in 2020 after stress in his life sadly pushed him to far and lashed out throwing furniture around his house prompting the police to get involved and eventually sedate him.

Speaking on the Out of Your League podcast, Lafai said: “It was stressful. I got the hint that the club wasn’t going to re-sign me at Dragons at that time. It was quite stressful. When my mental break happened, I took it out on my wife and the house.

“It’s out there anyway but so there was a situation on the Good Friday in 2020. I don’t remember it all because they sedated me but from what I remember it was just over a little just a little something that could have been solved again by me just opening up and talking to my wife.

“But because I had so much bottled up in me, she says something and I just snapped and before you know it, the furniture is flying across the house and I’m not thinking at that time, at that time I’m just like blacked out.

“I’ve gone and just grabbed spirit bottles, walked downstairs and just started drinking it, skulling it, and then just started smashing the walls down there, grabbing a sledgehammer, walking around the backyard.

“I think it was the neighbours that called the cops because he seen me and he heard a lot of it. And then she’s called one of our good neighbours, Junior Amone, he’s at Dragons.

“He was only just finished SG Ball and he would come over and we would train together. So she’s called, apparently, I don’t remember this, but she’s called him to come and try to calm me down and he wasn’t getting through to me.

“Then she’s, apparently she’s called her brother, my brother and her sisters to come save me, pray for me. And I didn’t remember any of these people coming over by then.

“Nothing’s gotten through to me and they’ve taken the kids, they took them to a whole different room and then that’s when the cops were there and then the ambulance came in and just sedated me and then I just woke up in the hospital.

“Yeah, I think it’s been building up and unfortunately, my wife and kids were the one that copped it. Luckily, I didn’t physically touch them, but it was not something nice that sits with me, especially knowing that my kids were there.

“Trying to explain that to them. It’s something that I always beat myself up on. And I’ll learn from moving forward. As a dad, it’s not the example I want to set for my boy yet alone, my girls. So yeah, it was definitely tough.

“It’s something that luckily they haven’t brought up. I know my oldest daughter probably remembers. I’m not sure about my son, but it’s a good teaching lesson for myself. So I can teach him that it’s okay to open up to me with any struggles in life whether it’s small or big and it’s okay to be vulnerable because yeah I guess the positive out of that is I can now teach him a better life lesson.”

He also opened up on waking up in handcuffs and strapped to a hospital bed.

“No I woke up in a hospital so I was strapped to a hospital bed so yeah I was knocked out for whatever they sedated me with. I woke up in a hospital bed and I had these handcuffs on the bed and I  was confused. I was like, what the heck?” Lafai said.

“The last thing I remember was just throwing like a chair across the lounge room, going down the stairs and drinking some hard liquor and then that’s all I remembered was that. And then waking up here, I was just like, just kind of panicked. I was like, what’s going on here?

“I was still drowsy. The police were there, and the nurse who was looking after me, and she’s like, oh, just calm down. You just, you’ve had a mental breakdown, and we’ve sedated you with some heavy stuff. Just calm down.

“I’m just trying to ask him, where’s my wife and kids? Are they okay? And yeah, it was quite confusing.”

He also spoke about why men do not open up?: “I wish I knew the answer, because I’ll be out there fixing it. It’s quite common in professional athletes how much we bottle things up and we feel like there’s this stigma around us that we’ve got to be macho, we’ve got to put on this front, because people are looking at us.

“It’s definitely something that I would love the Super League and NRL to work on at each club because it’s very important.”

Sadly, Lafai also said he was suicidal at one point saying he doubted ‘if he should be on the earth: “It was that time when the ambulance came, because my wife was saying, because we have a balcony and that’s when I was saying I was just standing there and then luckily in time the police and the ambulance got there in time to sedate me. That’s pretty pretty rock bottom for me there.”

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