Bennett praises 'good friend' Ennis
"He's one of the best players I've ever coached."
You'll struggle to find a better endorsement of Michael Ennis's career, especially when those words come from someone who has mentored the likes of rugby league greats Darren Lockyer, Wally Lewis and Allan Langer.
Wayne Bennett paid tribute to his 'good friend' this week after Ennis announced that he would be retiring from the NRL at the end of the 2016 season.
Ennis has had a decorated 14-year career that has seen him represent five NRL clubs and – most notably – New South Wales on eight occasions.
Bennett coached Ennis at the Broncos from 2006-2008 and the two immediately bonded and have kept in close contact ever since.
So close is their friendship that Ennis rang Bennett a week before he announced his retirement, asking the Broncos coach for advice on whether he should hang up the boots.
"I spoke to Michael about a week or so ago," Bennett said.
"We've always remained very good friends. I'm pleased for him because it's what he wanted.
"I'm very impressed with how Michael has developed throughout his career.
"He's an outstanding guy and he'll be great for the game when he retires. The game will not have seen the end of him.
"He was a bit undecided because he had so much going through his head. Sometimes they need a couple of other opinions so he gave me a call."
Ennis has always been one of the game's hardest competitors, with his in-your-face style of play dividing opinions in the NRL.
But Bennett endorsed Ennis's gamesmanship, saying that many of today's stars could learn a thing or two from the Sharks hooker.
"He's always had a great love of the game and he's given his best every week," he said.
"He's a great lesson for guys in the NRL that don't give their best every week.
"He sometimes is too paranoid about winning and puts too much pressure on himself to perform.
"He's been a wonderful player for the game and an outstanding person."
Ennis's focus will now turn to helping Cronulla-Sutherland turn their 15-game winning streak into their first premiership.
Much like the Sharks, the 32-year-old has never tasted title success – falling just short in the 2012 decider when he captained the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to a 14-4 grand final loss to the Melbourne Storm.
But even if Ennis doesn't have the fairy-tale finish this year, he will have no regrets as he moves into life after football with his loving family.
The Coffs Harbour product said he is content with his decision, and he is thankful for the advice of those like Bennett that helped him make the right decision.
"I've had a feeling for six or eight weeks that this might be it," Ennis said.
"I'm comfortable with the decision and I'm looking forward to the next chapter.
"When I was making up my mind I spoke to people who I really trust that I know will always tell me the truth.
"Bennett was one of the first because I have a great relationship with Wayne."