Bulldogs centre Tim Lafai has revealed how complications surrounding the birth of his first child were part of the reason why he missed last week's golden point victory over the Wests Tigers.
The official reason for his omission from Des Hasler's squad prior to kick off was a quad strain suffered in the captain's run. But on the eve of Friday night's grand final re-match, Lafai opened up on the worrying events during and after the birth.
"I didn't notice because I was caught up with the baby. Then the doc said she was losing a bit too much blood," Lafai told NRL.com on Tuesday.
"It was a bit scary – no one likes to see their loved ones go through that. I think she'll be fine. She's a tough girl. She's alright now, she's loving motherhood. So she's recovering well."
Zylah Jay was born to proud parents on Monday, however the complications – Lafai's wife lost around two litres of blood during the birth – were enough to keep Lafai away from training until the day before the game. Lafai praised the doctors at Westmead Hospital for helping the young family through an anxious few days.
"The doctors were awesome at Westmead, they're professionals. They didn't stress and they didn't make us feel stressed. It's always awesome to have people like that who make you feel calm," he said.
"They're such precious little things, kids. And to have one of my own is a blessing. She's changed my world completely. It just gives you that extra motivation to do all you can for her, your wife, and the family. It's been an amazing week."
Lafai, 23, will return to the Bulldogs side aiming to avenge last year's 30-6 grand final defeat to South Sydney when they meet again in a Good Friday blockbuster at ANZ Stadium.
"It'll be a big crowd out there [and] it'll be a good game. There are always good games between the two clubs, so I'm looking forward to it," he said.
"It's just definitely something to push for [this year], to go one better. But I guess we've got to take it game by game. Against the Rabbitohs, they're a good team, a good team to test our season against."
While both teams endeavoured to talk down the clash to media on Tuesday, Bulldogs winger Sam Perrett said it was important for the side to remember the lessons they were given in the heartbreaking defeat.
"I can only speak for myself I suppose, but that game's been and gone. We're in a new season now and there's been a couple of changes to our side and their side," he said.
"It's a different dynamic. We're on a different path now. We'll definitely take motivation from that, and hopefully lessons as well.
"It's different [this year]. I can't say if we're better or worse, because we were an amazing side last year and we're an amazing side this year. It's just different. I think that's the way to explain it."