Old Shark Ennis learns new tricks
Veteran Sharks hooker Michael Ennis said he's had to hit the reset button this year in effort to establish combinations with the club's new-look spine.
And it has paid dividends with Ennis skyrocketing up the Dally M Medal leader board in the past three weeks.
With Jeff Robson having left Cronulla for the Warriors and Jack Bird shifting from five-eighth to the centres, Ennis has had to combine with a brand new halves pairing in James Maloney and Chad Townsend, while Ben Barba has replaced Michael Gordon as the Sharks' fullback this season.
"It took a while probably to get used to the different voices I suppose," Ennis said of his new teammates.
"That and knowing where they like to be on the field. I spent a lot of time last year around this time with Jeff and Jack to try and get that down pat.
"That basically changed this year. As well as Ben too. Benny wasn't at fullback a lot last year with Michael Gordon there so it was almost a reset button for me to try and get that going again.
"I feel like as we head into Round 8 that it's coming together. I certainly enjoy playing with Chad and James and we're slowly starting to pick up on each other's games which is good.
"I'm really enjoying my football here. The way and style that we play here. The group of guys here are really supportive of how I play my footy and encourage me to attack, and play the way I did as a kid."
It's no secret the growing combination between Ennis and halves Maloney and Townsend has played a huge role in the Sharks' current four-game winning run.
But Ennis is considerably wary of the threat Penrith present to the Sharks on Sunday afternoon.
Coming up against usual halfback Peter Wallace in the No.9 jumper, Ennis praised his former Broncos teammate and his combination with Panthers half Jamie Soward.
"I think Wal is going really well and I thought he would. He's a really good defender and a really good organiser and they're two cornerstones of being a dummy-half I think," Ennis said.
"With him there and Soward getting them down field, they take so much pressure off [Te Maire] Martin and [Matt] Moylan to just play footy the way that they do. That's their strength.
"I think they have a really good balance. Soward's kicking game is as good as any in the competition. They have strike around the park and it's going to be one hell of a game."
Ennis also weighed into the recent grand final debate, and hailed the Sydney Cricket Ground as a suitable replacement with ANZ Stadium scheduled for a huge face lift in the coming years.
"If ANZ is unavailable, and the grand final is to stay in Sydney, I'd love nothing more than to say I played a grand final at the SCG especially with the heritage that it brings," he said.
"I've been fortunate enough to play there in club games but to play a grand final there, the hype around it and the attention it would bring would be enormous.
"Even if I wasn't playing in the grand final I'd certainly take my two boys there to see it because that's where our grand finals were built on from all the old footage we see."