After missing selection for the Bulldogs clash against the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday night, you could forgive Michael Lichaa for kicking stones after experiencing one of the toughest weeks in his rugby league career.
Although in unfamiliar territory after not being named in first grade this week, Lichaa went back to basics with his potent running game giving his side strong momentum through the middle-third.
“I just come back and you got to do what you got to do – hopefully I get back into first-grade soon,” Lichaa says to NSWRL.com.au.
“But it’s good to get back here and playing with your mates anyway, life goes on.”
Having been a first-grade regular since his Bulldogs debut in 2015, it has been a career-defining week for the dynamic hooker on and off the field.
While his omission was tough to swallow, Lichaa admits it has also been an incredibly eye-opening experience and one that builds plenty of character.
“You find out who your really good mates are in these tough times, you look at your phone and you see 30 or 40 messages from people, and you know the guys that are there for you at the end of the day, no matter what, and through thick and thin,” he said.
“You learn a lot about yourself and who your true friends and family are.”
As the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs pulled off an incredible 23-22 victory in the dying stages of their Round 9 clash against the Wentworthville Magpies, it was the addition of Lichaa that paid dividends in their come-from-behind win.
But he posed as a constant threat out of dummy-half and his experience around the ruck proved influential for forwards such as Renouf To’omaga, who posted two crucial tries within a relentless four-minute period to spark the Bulldogs back to life.
Although playing an instrumental role in the victory, Lichaa paid credit to his fellow team-mates for a character-defining performance in the second-half.
“It was pretty fun, it was a really good effort by the boys, and we probably didn’t play very good in the first-half but we stuck in there and got the win,’ Lichaa told NSWRL.com.au
“The boys muscled up in the second-half and I think big Renouf [To’omaga] was the difference – he’s a freak.”
He created a formidable combination with five-eighth Josh Cleeland, who laid on two tries in another starring performance, and worked tirelessly in defence as his side clawed back from a 16-6 half-time deficit.
As the Bulldogs first-grade side has endured a roller-coaster start to their season, posting just two victories in their first nine games, their Intrust Super Premiership side has enjoyed resounding success and sit in second-place on the competition ladder - with their potent attack being the cornerstone of their victories.
And Lichaa is clearly motivated to earn selection back into the first-grade side once again, however, is well aware of the mountain of hard-work required considering the heavy competition for spots among the squad.
“I just got to keep training hard – it’s all you can do really. You just got to turn up and do your best and try and enjoy it and not get weighed down by it all,” he said.
“It’s been a tough week for me, but you just got to move on and it all goes from there.”