The common phrase people use to wish someone good luck is, 'Break a leg!' In Tim Lafai's case, he broke his hand and ended up scoring the first hat-trick of his career.
The Bulldogs centre has revealed he took the field against the Dragons last Sunday with a broken right hand, which he injured at in a contact session midway through last week.
"I was just doing some contact stuff. It was pretty full on – Dessie likes us to get rough in there. It's just the smallest break. You can hardly see it. It'll probably get better in a few weeks," he said.
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It is the second time Lafai has had to deal with a hand injury this year. The 22-year-old missed the first two weeks of the season after breaking his left hand in a trial game against South Sydney back in February.
"Lucky it's nothing [more] major than what I'm usually used to, like my shoulders," he said.
"It wasn't that painful. When you're playing the adrenaline kicks in. After the game it hurts. There's not much you can do – you've just got to strap it and keep the guard on."
Last Sunday's hat-trick against St George-Illawarra was easily Lafai's best performance of the season. It was the third time this year he has broken six tackles, taking his overall tally to 27.
"[I'm] pretty happy with that. Three tries, first hat-trick in my career. So that's one of my highlights," he said.
"I've been pretty happy with my form. That's the main thing – Dessie wants some consistency in my game. I've been doing well, just keeping my spot there. So I've just got to keep it up."
The form of Hasler's centre combination in Lafai and Josh Morris has been one of the features of the Bulldogs' six-game winning streak that has made them outright leaders of the competition after nine rounds.
Despite keeping experienced centre Krisnan Inu at arm's length, Lafai, who re-signed with the club for a further three years in March, felt that he was still finding his feet in first grade.
"Slowly, the more games I get, the more experience I get," he said.
"I'm getting into the game, getting used to being in first grade and I think I'm evolving into this player I want to be. Still got a lot to learn and hopefully it'll come in a matter of time."
Now in his fourth season in the NRL, the Western Suburbs junior said Hasler had given him one simple message during the pre-season.
"Just getting involved," he said.
"Defence is also a massive thing for myself and especially for Dessie. That's another thing I'm trying to work on - reading plays. And just getting my carries up, all the little one per centers that makes the team great."