Tim Lafai’s former Canterbury teammates have backed the St George Illawarra bad boy to return to the NRL despite his recent run-in with the law.
Lafai, together with fellow Dragons player Siliva Havili, was on Tuesday stood down by the club after the pair were charged by police with affray and offensive behaviour for a drunk brawl on Sunday.
The indiscretion is the tipping point of a disappointing season for the 25-year-old Lafai, who has been a shadow of the player that helped Canterbury to the 2014 grand final.
After moving to the Dragons over the summer, Lafai has scored just three tries in 16 games before being dumped from first grade by coach Paul McGregor prior to Sunday’s incident.
But while former Bulldogs teammate Aidan Tolman was sad to see Lafai’s career spiral in Wollongong, he was confident the Samoan international would return as one of the game’s most potent centres.
“(I’m) bit disappointed for him because when he was here, in particular the end of 2014 and some games in 2015, he was up there as one of the best centres in the game in terms of attack and what he was doing in defence,” Tolman said.
“It’d be disappointing for him but I imagine he’ll get back there sooner or later. He’s a quality player and more importantly, a quality person. I’m sure he’ll get back there.”
St George Illawarra said the NRL integrity unit had been advised of the incident and counselling was being offered to both Lafai and Havili.
“The St George Illawarra Dragons have determined to stand down contracted players, Siliva Havili and Tim Lafai, effective immediately and until further notice, from all club activities, for breaching the club’s code of conduct,” the Dragons said on Tuesday in a statement.
“The club has been advised that both Havili and Lafai have been charged with affray and offensive behaviour by police, following an incident which occurred in Wollongong on Sunday morning.”