Inside Sport - - IN HINDSIGHT -

“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.”

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