Tim Lafai has to be the success story of 2022.
The Salford Red Devils centre had all but given up on rugby league until he joined the Red Devils. At the AJ Bell Stadium he was a revelation even devastating Champions St Helens and he was soon named in the Super League Dream Team.
He guided the Red Devils to the Super League semi-finals and has now scored four tries in two World Cup games for Samoa after being called up to the squad after Round One following injuries.
However, this year all started at humble beginnings when the centre couldn’t get a contract and was working long hours.
“I couldn’t land a contract, there was just nothing around so I went to work like everyone else,” Lafai said to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I was getting up at 4am and heading off to work to put food on the table for the family.
“It was good pay but to get there it’s 12-hour shifts, six-day weeks and I was missing out on a lot of things with the kids. You realise how good we have things in footy and you appreciate it.
“I was grateful for the work because it meant I could look after my family. I did that for a year and it was a good eye-opener.
“My perspective on footy is different now, you appreciate the simple things in the game. You can take things for granted when you’re young but before you know it 10 years have passed and you’re one of those blokes looking in from the outside.”
He has also opened up on how surprised he has been about the game time he has got in the World Cup: “I thought I was just coming back in to make up the numbers after the injuries, but this is such an honour to pull on the blue jersey again.”
“I thought my time had come and gone.”