Salford Red Devils star Tim Lafai has become one of the most in-form centres in Super League since joining the club.
Now, the former Samoan international has revealed the sacrifices that he and his family made before joining the club back at the beginning of the 2022 Super League season.
“I was just working – doing labouring and on construction sites,” Lafai revealed on the Super League website.
“I didn’t get re-signed in the NRL. I’ve got four kids and a wife so couldn’t afford not to work. I knew I had to somehow bring in an income and put food on the table for the family.
“At the back end of 2021, I messaged my manager and asked if there’s any gigs coming up – I missed playing rugby. Getting a taste of the real world, having to work six days a week made me realise that I missed playing.”
That chance came when Lafai’s manager revealed that the Salford Red Devils were willing to take a punt on the Samoan centre.
“I never planned on going overseas. It was never on my mind, but my wife and I had a chat and went back and forth weighing up the pros and cons.
“Especially with four kids – we’re family orientated, her families there and my families there [in Australia] so it was a lot to weigh up and we thought let’s just do it. Let’s take that leap of faith.
“It was a case of coming over to a new team, new system, new environment – and I’m glad I made that decision.”
It’s never easy for an overseas player to make the move to the UK, especially with the climate a big surprise for those coming from the other side of the world.
“We got here the end of January, and the boys were just giving it to me about missing the whole pre-season – and it was freezing cold when I got here too! I walked out [to training] in my tracksuit jacket with my hands in my pockets and the boys just started laughing at me. I was like ‘what is this?!’
“The body was pretty sore the whole week of training just trying to get up to speed with being back in a professional rugby team. I played one trial game – well half a game – I think against Warrington, and it was just in the deep end from there.
“I think the muscle memory from my body and what it feels like to be battered and bruised took a few weeks to get up to speed.
“But my families sacrificed a lot to come over here – so I had to put my best foot forward and play my absolute best week in week out regardless of how sore I am. And you can see it on the field – I do this for my wife and my kids and for the sacrifices that they’ve made.”