What is it about the rugby league number nine jersey that attracts Lebanon’s finest? From the days of Joe Thomas scheming South Sydney’s attack, to Benny Elias creating mischief for defenders, the hooker position has long been a shining light for Beirut’s best. The latest prospect, Michael Lichaa, is a traditional dummy-half, with broad shoulders and a heavy-set frame to match. He’s the latest in the extensive production line of National Rugby League hookers with hummus.

What’s His Story?

Playing for the Cronulla Sharks, Lichaa has represented both the NSW Blues and the Kangaroos at under-20s level.

His running game is so effective, the trainee carpenter was heavily pursued by several NRL clubs looking to snap up the gifted 19-year-old. Raised in Sydney’s southern suburbs, he represents the changing cultural face of juniors developed in the Sutherland Shire.

Lichaa first played in the NRL’s under-20s competition at the tender age of 17, and has progressed his game to such an extent, he’s now placing pressure on seasoned first-graders Isaac De Gois and John Morris. The Sharks’ depth at the position affords them the luxury of making some tough salary cap-based decisions. Lichaa’s performances have forced head coach Shane Flanagan to hasten his succession plan for the hooker spot.

So when will league fans see the Yarrawarrah Tigers junior’s talents on the NRL stage? “I plan to be part of the first grade squad every week next year, and hopefully, with a whole load of hard work, aim to one day play rep footy.

“It’s my ambition. That would be the ultimate goal. For now, though, I just want to keep learning from all the coaching staff and my team-mates, in order to further develop and improve my game.”