Dream Team member Tim Lafai has been one of the signings of the season in Super League, according to his Salford coach Paul Rowley.
The Samoa international, who was working as a bricklayer this time last year, was given a lifeline by the Red Devils to reignite his full-time professional rugby league playing career ahead of this season.
Salford’s recruit of Lafai was seen as a gamble by some at the time, having played a game in the NRL for almost two years.
But he’s silenced the doubters. He has scored six tries and provided 14 assists in 22 games in Super League this season.
Lafai has made more offloads than anyone else in the competition with 49, and his impressive displays saw him named in the 2022 Super League Dream Team alongside his Salford team-mates Brodie Croft and Ken Sio.
“He’s been great on and off the field,” Red Devils boss Rowley told Love Rugby League. “You only see on the field but he’s been great off it as well.
“We did our research on Tim. I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot to go at in terms of centres. We dug deep in our recruitment and looked deep at Tim’s previous games playing for Samoa.
“The style he played suited what we thought we wanted to create. We’ll take that one, we did alright with Tim.
“He’s under promised, over delivered individually so we don’t want to take all the credit there. Most of the credit should go to him and his hard work so we’re pleased for him.”
Back in June, Salford acted quickly to give 31-year-old centre a new deal for the 2023 campaign.
Salford helping Tim Lafai and Brodie Croft be the best version of themselves
Lafai’s team-mate Brodie Croft has found his love and passion for rugby league again since making the move over from the NRL.
The Australian half-back has been nominated for the Man of Steel award alongside Jack Welsby (St Helens) and Jai Field (Wigan).
“Brodie came to us as a player who didn’t know what sort of player he was,” Rowley added.
“He was a support player to Cooper Cronk. He then went as a young boy to Brisbane in a battered team, and then he came here.
“I remember his first session. He was nervous, his skill wasn’t great because of his nervousness. Once we got rid of his nervousness and once he understood that it was okay to fail because that’s how you learn, then his skill became on point all the time.
“He has become a wonderful player on the back of relaxing. He’s starting to learn what his best attributes are and what he needs to work on. He compliments the people around him.
“All the noise on Brodie is taking the spotlight off Marc Sneyd, who is probably having his best season in years.”
The Red Devils are just 80 minutes away from Old Trafford. They travel to champions St Helens in the semi-finals 0n Saturday afternoon.