In the days following the announcement that Bulldogs and NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson had signed a rich three-year deal with the Newcastle Knights for 2016, young gun hooker Michael Lichaa has expressed his sadness of seeing his teammate leave the kennel.
With Lichaa only acquainting himself with the halfback since signing with the Bulldogs at the beginning of this season, the 21-year-old rake told NRL.com he realised Hodkinson's decision to become a Novocastrian was a reality of rugby league he'll have to get used to.
While he and the Bulldogs will lose an instrumental teammate, Lichaa will also lose his daily driving companion with their chats between Cronulla and Canterbury sure to be missed.
"I was upset to see that Hokko had to go. He's a real good mate and I drive to training with him every day. I probably can't say too much about what we talk about though – I'll get myself in trouble," Lichaa laughed.
"We don't talk about football rather than a bit of stuff here and there but it's all good. He's definitely a legend. It was a big decision he had to make but that's the salary cap I guess. He's a professional and he'll definitely do well at the Knights.
"It's obviously good for Moses [Mbye] and Josh Reynolds moving forward but it's definitely sad Hokko had to leave."
Despite Hodkinson's departure, Lichaa was pleased that one of his self-confessed best mates Mbye will get a consistent crack at first grade beyond this year – not that he isn't already.
With Mbye currently leaving Josh Reynolds to come off the bench, Lichaa had nothing but compliments for his fellow young Dog.
"He's going awesome," Lichaa said.
"At the start of the year he didn't know if he was going to play often because he missed out on the Round 1 team but ever since then he's come in and been really solid.
"There have been some weeks there too where he's been our best player so he's going really well."
Expected to become half of the Bulldogs all-important spine next season, Mbye and Lichaa's friendship should only pay dividends for the club moving forward.
With Lichaa reaching his 2015 season objectives already - becoming an 80-minute hooker - the Cronulla-Caringbah junior didn't deny he was already thinking about the possibilities of next year.
"My biggest goal this year, of course I wanted to have a good year, but it was to become an 80 minute hooker," Lichaa said.
"It was my main focus so next pre-season I can work on other things like my kicking game rather than just my fitness. Achieving my goals this year definitely sets me up well for next pre-season to practice all the other stuff."
This article first appeared on NRL.com