Michael Ennis played his 250th NRL game against Manly. Becoming the 100th man to reach the milestone.

Parker's praise for his mate 'the menace'

He won't advise his Brisbane Broncos teammates on how to handle Michael Ennis on Sunday because even though they share a friendship going back more than a decade even Parker gets sucked in sometimes.

Beautifully described by Fox Sports commentators as a "super-competitive family man", few know the two sides to Michael Ennis better than Parker.

It's been 10 years since the pair first started playing alongside each other at the Broncos and having each served as best man at their respective weddings are now each godfather to the other's children.

A key factor in Cronulla's revival over the past two seasons, Ennis's skill often gets overlooked for the niggle he brings but through his new role on Fox Sports Parker believes the broader rugby league public is slowly getting to know the Michael Ennis he is proud to call a mate.

"I don't think it needs to be spoken about, the type of person Michael Ennis is away from the field," Parker told NRL.com.

"I think we've all seen that by his interaction with Fox and how he comes across. He's a super nice, caring, understanding guy.

"He's just a competitor. He's five-foot high and plays in the middle and plays as hard and as tough as anyone and if you can get under the skin of a slow, lazy tight forward, that's what a hooker does.

"Halfbacks are the same. There are plenty of cheeky halfbacks getting around that do the exact same thing but we're just not talking about them."

 


In addition to a clash in an Origin match in 2011, Parker recalls a time in a club game where Ennis got under his skin but rather than holding a grudge longer than 80 minutes said his tenaciousness is what brings fans through the gate.

"About four years ago here in Brisbane. We were losing the game and of course he did [get under my skin], but that's rugby league," Parker said.

"That's what we want, that's why the fans turn up. They want to see the people with pride and passion playing for each other, particularly their teams and you're getting stuck in.

"At the end of the day you shake hands, walk off and that's that."

Ennis might be licking his lips at the prospect of young Kiwi rake Kodi Nikorima starting in the No.9 jersey for the first time for the Broncos on Sunday but even Nikorima only had nice things to say about the Sharks hooker.

Nikorima made his NRL debut against the Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium in Round 2 and said rather than being terrorised only received kind words from Ennis.

"He was actually pretty good," said Nikorima. "He congratulated me after the game on my debut, like [Paul] Gallen and the rest of those boys.

"Cozza hasn't told me anything yet, he might have a word to me. He just tells me to play my own game and not let him get to me."

In addition to a number of mouth-watering personal match-ups, the clash between two of the in-form teams of the Telstra Premiership will be a wonderful way to close out Round 9 on Sunday evening.

Both teams are riding five-game winning streaks and Parker believes Cronulla now deserve to be thought of as one of the competition's top teams.

"I think the Sharks are a very under-rated footy team to be honest," said Parker, who has a career record of 12 wins from 19 games against the Sharks.

"They're playing a really good brand of football and they've been flying under the radar.

"It's a tough road trip to Shark Park, it's a Sunday arvo so there'll be a big crowd and should be a good game."