Michael Lichaa
Michael Lichaa Getty Images

Sharp dumps Lichaa for signing three-year deal with Bulldogs

VETERAN Peter Sharp may only be keeping the Sharks' coaching seat warm for the suspended Shane Flanagan, but this week he displayed the kind of old-school fortitude that has, predictably, divided the masses.

Following the news that 20-year-old rising star Michael Lichaa had signed a three-year deal with the Bulldogs, two days after debuting for the Sharks, Sharp immediately dumped him from the side to play the Dragons this weekend.

Lichaa had been named on the bench the previous day.

In the eyes of some, Sharp became the baddie, with Lichaa's dad and his manager, Sam Ayoub, castigating the 59-year-old coach.

And a Sydney newspaper jumped in head first with the clever heading 'Great White Narks'.

Comparisons were immediately made to a decision back in 2001 by then Broncos coach Wayne Bennett who banished 18-year-old Justin Hodges to the Queensland Cup after he had signed with the Roosters.

The major difference was that Hodges had already proven himself, having played 17 NRL matches. Lichaa has played one.

And when Hodges was exiled, the Broncos poured their resources into a youngster named Brent Tate, who went on to forge a reasonably successful career.

While Sharp and the Sharks may come across as bad losers, it is difficult to disagree with their philosophy. Why should they continue nurturing a local junior who has spent three off-seasons training with their NRL squad readying him for the future, when an opposing club will now gain the benefit?

It's not as though the Sharks aren't well served by hookers with John Morris and Isaac De Gois on their books.

Morris is retiring at season's end and Lichaa was to be his replacement.

And to compare Lichaa to Andrew Fifita is ridiculous.

Fifita is an international, has served the club magnificently in his two previous seasons and owes the Sharks nothing.

Lichaa owes them heaps.

Loyalty in the game may be dead, but surely there will always be a place for people with principles - people like Peter Sharp.

Yes, yes, yes

WHEN the Tigers announced the signing of 32-year-old Pat Richards following a 199-game career in the UK, I thought 'poor decision'. After all, in Marika Koroibete and David Nofoaluma they had two of the best young wingers in the game.

But Richards, with his booming boot, has been a revelation and his 72m drop out last Sunday was a first for me in 35 years covering the game. His 22 points against the Titans proves he is more than making up the numbers.

And his high, spiralling kick-offs are a weapon no other club employs and add an exciting dimension to what is a ho-hum part of the game.

No, no, no

HOPEFULLY the Titans are not using the weather conditions last Sunday to paper over their inept performance against the Tigers.

NRL stats reveal the Titans missed 40 tackles, conceded eight penalties, made 17 handling errors and completed just 16 of 34 sets.

And even more worrying for the Titans was the 19,425 at the AFL match at nearby Carrara the night before.

The Titans attracted a meagre 12,038.

The fact is the Titans melted in the heat, the Tigers did not.

And if the Titans were so concerned about playing on a Sunday afternoon in March, why did they not raise the issue earlier?



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