Lafai feeling responsibility to lift Dragons

Lafai feeling responsibility to lift Dragons

St George Illawarra centre Tim Lafai admits he feels some responsibility for a season that started off so well for the Dragons but is now in danger of ending without a finals appearance.

Lafai's own personal form in 2017 started in a blistering pace, but along with the rest of Paul McGregor's men he has been inconsistent at the backend of the season. 

The former Bulldog put pen to paper on a new three-year deal with the Dragons in June and denied as a result he's taken the foot off the gas and become too comfortable. 

"It's a domino effect, if one player is off the rest can follow," Lafai told NRL.com.

"We got off to a great start along with myself but feel as though we've lost our way as a whole team.

"I don't feel like I've slackened off since [the re-signing], but maybe tried too hard at times and pushed a pass and come up with an error and when we don't win it could lead to people thinking that."

‌There is no doubting the 26-year-old's game has been a positive for the Dragons rather than a negative. He's averaging 138 metres per game and ranks second behind Sea Eagles prop Martin Taupau for most offloads in the Telstra Premiership.

On the other hand he's made 29 errors – the second most of any player in the competition.

Lafai admits it's something he is working on after getting his hands on the ball more this season than he has throughout his career.  

"I don't intentionally mean to do it but feel responsible just as much as everyone does," he said.

"Mary (Dragons coach Paul McGregor) has been awesome for me in my growth as a player and person. Last year was a learning curve and we built on that in the off-season.

"Being a centre himself he's guided me possibly more so than a lot of the boys and that helps a lot. He's just on me about always being aggressive – as a centre you have to create your own space but then know when to pass or what line to run. 

"I know I need to get better with those things."

The Dragons are in ninth position after two shock defeats to cellar dwellers Newcastle and the Rabbitohs over the last fortnight.

With constant talk of the eighth-placed Panthers' hot run of form, the pressure is now on the Red V to fight their way back into finals calculations.

"If that's not enough motivation then I don't know what is," Lafai said.

"Being outside the eight after staying there all year hurts, but if anything it's now up to us to put the pressure back on those sides who are there at the minute. 

"There is a still a good chance with four games left to show everyone and ourselves we can get back there."

 


Lafai noted how relaxed the team was feeling considering the past fortnight of "frustration" and was confident of a strong response against the Gold Coast Titans in Kogarah on Saturday.

The Titans were too good for McGregor's men back in Round 17 and have won three of the last four clashes between the two sides.

"The last thing we want to do is panic but you can't be too relaxed either, there has to be a fine line," Lafai said.

"You can't afford to clock off in the 75th minute and that's one thing we did [against the Rabbitohs].

"[McGregor] had every right to be disappointed. We had that game until the final five minutes and just fell asleep. You can't afford to do that.

"If we're serious about playing finals we need to finish those games off."