“It would be crazy to miss out on the World Cup if you got an opportunity… And also my dad’ s Lebanese family is excited about it.”
It’s one of the feel-good factors to this World Cup: high-profile NRL players turning out for their family’s countries. Lebanon – coached by Brad Fittler and skippered by Tim Mannah – have NSW Origin star Robbie Farah available and young gun Mitchell Moses also set to play.
Former Bulldogs hooker Michael Lichaa (pictured right) says the choice was easy to represent his father’s country. “It would be crazy to miss out on the World Cup if you got an opportunity,” he says. “Not many people get to do it, so it will be awesome. And also my dad’s family – my dad’s Lebanese – is excited about it. I can’t wait.
“Everyone calls me an ‘Aussie-Leb’ – because I was born in the Cronulla area. It’s more for my family. They’ll be very proud. It will be a good moment for them and get the Lichaa name on the back of the jersey.”
Lichaa thinks getting NRL and domestic players together is a recipe for success: “What the other guys are going to bring who don’t play NRL is enthusiasm. They’ll be all geed up. These are the biggest games of their life. A lot of them haven’t played NRL before, but they get a chance to go out and play against Australia.”
The pressure is off, too; another carrot when representing a team like Lebanon. They have a license to express themselves on the footy field.
“You have a bit of fun,” says Lichaa. “No one expects us realistically to go any good. There’s no pressure on us. We can just go out and surprise a few teams. We’ll verse Australia and England and France; I think they’re first, third and fifth in the world. If we beat France, we could go through to the quarter-finals.”