Canterbury captain and former NSW hooker Michael Ennis has declared himself fully fit and ready to throw his hat into the selection ring for Game Two should the Blues go down in tonight’s State of Origin clash in Melbourne after being replaced by arch-rival Robbie Farah for the series opener.
Buoyed by the Bulldogs’ impressive 26-6 thumping of Cronulla on Monday night, Ennis told NRL.com today that he hasn’t given up on his Origin dream – despite sliding back down the pecking order this season – and predicted a much-improved personal showing in the run home to the finals after overcoming the knee injury that hampered him during the early rounds.
“It was certainly disappointing [to miss selection] – would love to be there with the Blues but that’s the way things go,” Ennis said. “I probably had a bit of a slow start coming off the pre-season I had so yeah, I just missed the boat, but I certainly won’t give up trying to fight back and get my spot back. It was a very special time in my career, playing Origin, and I certainly hope I get another opportunity.
“I’ve just got to work hard now and try and get that real consistency back in my club footy.”
Despite false reports of a groin injury holding him back in recent months, Ennis pointed to an arthroscopy on his knee around Christmas as having hampered him during the early rounds with NSW coach Ricky Stuart known to have been concerned with his former No.9’s fitness.
But the 28-year-old said that a week off in the lead-up to last month’s City-Country clash had turned his season around.
“I’m not sure where the groin came from,” he laughed. “I had a bit of an arthroscopy on the knee after Christmas there which was a bit slower than we expected so it was disappointing to not be able to have the pre-season I would have liked.
“It did take a bit of time to adapt to the changes that we’ve had and also getting that bit of timing back, but certainly over the past month I feel that I’ve started to find my feet.
“I was probably really fortunate that Des and the staff looked after me during City-Country week. I previously hadn’t been able to have that time off but he gave me 10 days off my legs and it was enormous actually. It really helped and since then I’ve really found my footy is improving.”
Asked if he was worried that his Origin opportunity may have passed him by – particularly if the new-look Blues squad comes away with a win in Melbourne tonight – Ennis replied: “I suppose, if you look at it in that regard… but sometimes you just have to put your head down and not worry about the things you can’t control. Whether it be through injury or lack of form you’ve just got to squeeze your way through, like I did a few years ago.
“I was fortunate back then to get a few games in a row and hopefully if I can work hard and worry about what works for me and my team at the Bulldogs, I might get another opportunity down the track.
“But at the moment it’s all about getting us back on track and winning a few games at the ’Dogs.”
Canterbury’s win over Cronulla on Monday night pushes them back into the top eight in seventh spot leading into next Monday night’s crucial clash with the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium. Despite some inconsistent performances, with just two wins from their past four games, Ennis said he was confident the Bulldogs were on the right track.
“You look back at that first half of the season – there were probably three games we should have put away where we didn’t come away with the points but we played really well, so we didn’t drop our bundle or lose our confidence,” he said. “We find ourselves in that logjam of teams in the middle because we didn’t get those vital competition points but this is a real opportunity to get on a bit of a roll and find that consistency we’ve been looking for.
“The big thing for us is the great work that Des and his staff have done with us as a team and also as individuals. Our preparations have been second to none.
“At times during games we’ve lacked a little bit of execution and probably it just hasn’t been second nature for us yet. Sometimes the old habits try and find their way in and it’s about trying to eliminate those now.
“But we’ve been training long enough under Des. We probably missed a few opportunities early in the season so it’s time now to execute what our coaches need from us.
“Hopefully Monday night was the start for us.”
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