Samoa star Tim Lafai open to NRL return

Josh McAllister
Tim Lafai. PA Images

Samoa star Tim Lafai says he is open to one day making the return to the NRL following an impressive World Cup display. 

The Salford centre has been a part of Samoa’s history-making team, becoming the first tier two nation to make a World Cup final following their victory over England.

Lafai, 31, was a bricklayer just 12 months ago and had been out of the game for a year before the Red Devils came calling ahead of the 2022 campaign.

A fine debut season saw Lafai score six tries in 22 Super League appearances. He was rewarded with a place in the Super League Dream Team and later a new one-year deal with the AJ Bell Stadium side.

However, Lafai admits he would be open to a return Down Under in the NRL, where he represented Canterbury Bulldogs and St George Illawarra. 

“If there are any offers, I’d love to take them,” he said. “That’s where mine and my wife’s families are, but I’ll keep enjoying my rugby over here for the time being.”

Tim Lafai: To be called back in was a huge honour

The former NRL outside-back thought he’d be watching the current World Cup campaign as a spectator, having not originally made Samoa’s 24-man squad.

However, an early injury crisis saw Lafai recalled to the team by coach Matt Parish alongside club team-mate Ken Sio.

His call-up saw him become the most experienced player in the squad, with 17 caps going back to his debut against Papua New Guinea in 2013.

“I’ve definitely saved myself some money there,” Lafai said. “I thought I would just be spectating. I was just going to get behind the boys, be with the fans in the crowd.

“To be called back in was a huge honour. Any time I can get to pull the blue jersey on means everything to me.”

Lafai scored twice in Samoa’s 27-26 semi-final victory over England at the Emirates Stadium, creating history for a tier two nation.

He is the only Samoa player to appear in three World Cups. And this weekend he looks to create more history with his team-mates.

“My wife and I talk about it all the time, almost giving it up in 2021,” he said. “I came here and found my love for the game again. It means a lot to finish with the World Cup.

“We’re here to make history and we’ll go into the final giving our all. We’re going to leave everything on the field like the other day.

“We know they’re the best team in the world. We’ve just got to compete for every second, every minute of the game.

“This means everything to Samoa, a small island. We’re not just doing it for each other, we’re doing it for all the people back home.”

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