Canterbury's recruitment of Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita and hooker Michael Lichaa is the first reaction to the new rule interpretations introduced in the NRL this season. With games now faster and the ball in play for longer, it took just one premiership match for the Bulldogs to confirm that big, mobile frontrowers with high endurance levels such as Fifita were now more valuable than hulking giants such as Sam Kasiano. The increased speed of the game also makes it harder for hookers - and particularly a 30-year-old such as Michael Ennis - to play the full 80 minutes. Whether Fifita, who signed a four-year $3.4 million deal after the Bulldogs upped their offer the day after their 18-12 loss to Brisbane, is worth the same type of money that the Warriors paid for superstar fullback Sam Tomkins is just one question now being asked by the rest of the league world. How Canterbury coach Des Hasler can justify having a third of his team's $6.3 million salary cap tied up in their two frontrow rotations each week is another after also re-signing James Graham on a four-year $2.6 million deal. However, few could argue that Fifita is now the No.1 prop in the game after forcing his way into the Australian team for last year's World Cup and finishing top of Sports Data's 2013 Contributor Value Ratings (CVR) for all players in the NRL. Averaging 51.8 minutes in each of his 25 games for Cronulla, the 24-year-old made more metres than any other player in 2013 and was the leading prop for tries and tackle-breaks, while also finishing third for line breaks and offloads. These statistics, in combination with more than 30 others collated from matches last season, put him ahead of Cameron Smith (second), Sam Burgess (third), Daly Cherry-Evans (seventh), Billy Slater (eighth) and Sonny Bill Williams (11th) in the CVR rankings. In comparison, Kasiano was 51st amongst props alone, and averaged 32 minutes per game in his 13 appearances for the Bulldogs last season - although he was third on a per minute basis behind Fifita and George Burgess. Graham and Canterbury frontrow partner Aiden Tolman were the third and fourth highest ranked props on a per game basis last season and averaged 61.3 minutes and 56.6 minutes each match respectively. "If you think about it, they have paid $850,000 and $650,000 for two starting props and then if Tolman comes on for Graham and young David Klemmer comes on for Fifita, there is about $1.1 million in each frontrow position," one rival club official said. "That doesn't equate to me so they are obviously going to have to let someone go." Another club official said: "It looks to me like the Bulldogs have totally panicked after their game against the Broncos by paying $850,000 for another prop when they really need a fullback." However, the rationale behind Hasler's thinking may lie with the new rule changes that are set to favour a 114kg frontrower like Fifita over Kasiano, whose playing weight has been up to 137kg during the past two years and is again missing at the start of the season due to an ankle injury. According to Sports Data, teams averaged 305.1 tackles per game in round 1 compared to 298.2 tackles per game in the opening round of last year's competition, while dummy half running (14.3) was up on the overall 2013 average of 13.8 per team per game. The Bulldogs made 319 tackles in their 18-12 loss to Brisbane compared to 311 by the Broncos, while Ennis made 48 metres from seven dummy half runs. Although the increases aren't huge, those figures are expected to rise as referees traditionally blow more penalties in the opening rounds to enforce new rules and players invariably get match fit.