Michael Lichaa, HOK, $533,000
Having won a new contract with a late run of form at the end of 2017, Michael Lichaa could be a cut-price bargain heading into a new era at the Bulldogs.
Scoring potential: 4/5
Lichaa was an 80-minute tackle machine in 2015 and 2016, also contributing enough attacking stats to earn around 50 NRL Fantasy, presented by Youi, points a game. That number dropped to 36 last year as Lichaa's minutes took a hit, with the hooker playing the full 80 in just half of his 22 games and spending half an hour or less on the field five times.
But with new coach Dean Pay at the helm at the Bulldogs there's a good chance Lichaa plays big minutes once again. He is also likely to run the ball more in 2018, having made a strong finish to 2017 with his best two running games of the season coming in the final two games of the year.
It's all about minutes for Lichaa, which is really a question for the new coach. It's a good sign that Canterbury changed their tune and re-signed the hooker after he'd earlier been told to look elsewhere for a new club, but by the same token the arrival of utility Fa'amanu Brown suggests Pay may run with a bench hooker and give Lichaa a spell late in matches.
If that's the case and Lichaa plays around 60 minutes a game – similar to last year – rather than the 80 minutes he had played in previous years, he may struggle to top 40 points a week. But if Brown gets a run in the starting side, as Kieran Foran's halves partner for example, Lichaa's 80-minute role should be safe.
Lichaa is a proven 80-minute player and a proven 50-point Fantasy scorer, so a break even of 36 at the start of a new season makes him a great value buy if things go to plan. But if he spends some time on the bench there's no certainty he'll get back to his scores of old.
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