Reynolds offers Lichaa support after benching
Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds sought out club No.9 Michael Lichaa immediately after the rake was benched for the majority of an impressive 24-9 Good Friday win over South Sydney to deliver a message of support and empathy.
The recent emergence of halfback Matt Frawley – coinciding with a form reversal and three-game winning run for the Dogs – has cast doubt over the role of incumbents Lichaa, Reynolds and Moses Mbye moving forward.
Following an impressive debut in a Round 5 win over Brisbane, Frawley was retained on the bench by coach Des Hasler and played most of the win against Newcastle when fullback Brad Abbey was concussed early. However his third game saw him replace Lichaa at the 25-minute mark with Mbye finishing out the game at hooker with the team coming home strongly against the Rabbitohs.
"'Lich' would be a bit disappointed at not getting much game time [against Souths]," Reynolds told NRL.com.
"I had words with him and I just told him to keep his head up because I've been in that same position [in 2015] with the three of us in there."
Reynolds is referring to a similar log-jam between himself, Lichaa, Mbye and now-Newcastle halfback Trent Hodkinson that saw Reynolds start four games from the bench in 2015. The fourth, and clearly the toughest for the proud Belmore local, was the famous "Back to Belmore" ambush over the Storm.
Fan favourite Reynolds was forced to watch on for three quarters of the game as his teammates put the Storm to the sword in front of a baying, parochial crowd in the first match at the old suburban ground in 17 years.
"[Lichaa] is a big man, he can know what's good for the team but it's at that time Des made a decision and he happened to be the one that came off this time but he'll be sweet, he's mentally strong and he'll come back from that game," Reynolds said.
Reynolds said the current situation "sucks" for Lichaa – who he insisted doesn't deserve the criticism that has been coming his way lately – but backed the off-contract 23-year-old to gain extra motivation from the benching.
Of his own budding on-field partnership with close mate Frawley, Reynolds offered enthusiastic praise whilst also being careful not to imply either of Mbye or Lichaa are putting in inferior performances.
"Frawls is doing amazing things for this team and that's not hidden, he comes on and just got so much control," Reynolds said.
"It would help any five-eighth, wouldn't it? It's not that he's doing something that Moses isn't or whatever.
"He's doing his part for the team and I'm just making sure I'm doing everything I can for the team but you put two and two together and it does help me out. The bigger picture is looking good."