Injured Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis says he would need a miracle to play through a fractured foot in Sunday's Grand Final, insisting the team needs to move on with the reality of preparing for a game without him.
Ennis fronted the media on Tuesday and said while he had all but given up hope of being out on the field on Sunday, he had decided to do as much media as possible to allow his teammates to get on with their preparation.
"The reason I wanted to do media today is so we can move on. I want my teammates to concentrate on a grand final, I don't want them to see me on the TV screens and in the papers today about whether I'm going to play," Ennis said.
"I want them to focus on their preparation and what they need to do for Sunday. It's just unfortunate. I'm not naïve, every game, whether it's a prelim final, grand final or a trial, it's the risk we take with our bodies. It's just an unfortunate situation."
Ennis fractured two bones in his foot just before halftime in the side's 18-12 preliminary final win over Penrith on Saturday and sat out the second half of that game. He said with two breaks in the foot, it's not something you can just needle up with painkillers and play through – although he would if he could.
"Of course [I'd play injured], I've played injured plenty of times, I just haven't faced this sort of injury before. It's just unfortunate that it's come at this time," he said.
"I'm just being honest and up front. I've been honest all along… unless I wake up some day and the pain's gone... It's highly unlikely."
Ennis has signed for Cronulla for 2015 meaning he has played his last game for the Bulldogs if he doesn't play the grand final, but said he is available for whatever the team needs in this last week.
"I'll do as much media as I can and do as many things like that to take the focus off the boys and let them concentrate on their preparation and I'll work hard at the back end with whoever's going to take my place if that's the case, and just smile, enjoy the week for what it is. We've worked extremely hard and I'm not going to be there Sunday, more than likely."
Ennis did cast an eye over the candidates to take his place if he is ruled out, and seemed to be leaning towards specialist hooker Damien Cook, who has played two games in first grade for the Bulldogs this year, although there are plenty of players in the regular first grade squad who can fill in there.
"Damien Cook filled in there for a while when I was at halfback through Origin. Guys that have that utility value like Moses Mbye, Reni Maitua's capable, Josh Jackson's filled in there at different stages," Ennis said.
Another option would be to shift five-eighth Josh Reynolds to dummy-half, with the NSW pivot having spent plenty of time at hooker in the lower grades before establishing himself as a first-grade half, and who covered for Ennis in the role against Penrith last week.
"After 10 minutes or so in that second half Joshy [Reynolds] really settled back into the role at dummy half but he's such a quality five-eighth it'd be difficult to move him, his combination with Trent [Hodkinson] – they won an Origin series. They've been enormous for us all year. In the end I'd imagine someone like a Damien Cook or someone will take my place," Ennis said.