'Our standards aren't good enough': Lafai tells it straight

An honest Tim Lafai said the Dragons simply weren't good enough against the Eels and that a repeat of last year’s run to the finals is a long way off unless they fix their problems.

Last year the Dragons set themselves up for the finals early on, claiming eight victories in their first ten matches, but this season they’re off the pace with a 4-4 record.

The Dragons have lost their past two games after going down 32-18 to the Eels.

In the second half of Sunday’s match the Dragons welcomed Parramatta back into the game, letting in two tries in the first 10 minutes which gave the Eels a 16-14 lead.

The Dragons fought their way back to level up at 18-all heading into the final quarter, but after conceding six penalties to Parramatta’s one (the Eels had 57% of possession in the second half), mixed with some half-hearted defensive efforts, they basically handed the home team a victory.

"Our standards are just not good enough at the moment", Lafai told NRL.com.

"The message in the sheds from the coach at half-time was simple: we go out there, get to the end of our sets and we will go a long way in getting the result. We went out there and did the complete opposite."

Heading into the NRL's inaugural Magic Round, Lafai said redemption was high on the agenda.

The Dragons are preparing to take on former teammate Leeson Ah Mau.

Lafai said although he missed having one of this closest mates around, he won’t be trying to get anywhere close to him come Saturday night when they face the Warriors.

"I do miss having him around - he's a big soft giant,” Lafai said.

"He always put the team first and he's one to let his footy do the talking. But in saying that when he does offer his opinion everyone listens.

"I'm looking forward to versing him but I'll definitely be dodging him in the middle there because everyone has seen how Leeson can hit.”

Not only will the Dragons be trying to avoid their third consecutive loss, they will have to figure out a way to do it without five-eighth Corey Norman after he underwent surgery on Tuesday for a fractured cheek.

With Norman now joining Gareth Widdop (shoulder), Korbin Sims (broken arm) and Jack de Belin (stood down) on the sideline, Lafai expects replacement five-eighth Jai Field to hold his own.

"Losing Tyse [Tyson Frizell] at the start and then Normy [Corey Norman] in the second half was a huge blow to our team," Lafai said.

"Although Tyse was a huge loss, we had the forward pack to cover him when he went down but when you lose your five-eighth it’s a bit different.

"We've been watching Jai's games in Canterbury Cup and he's been doing really well.

"He's bulked up and he's been doing the little things right to get himself into that top 21. If he gets the opportunity the boys will be happy for him and we will have his back come Saturday."