Ennis not ready to say goodbye yet: Flanagan
He was robbed of a shot at premiership glory when injury ruled him out of the 2014 grand final, and now - almost two years later - Michael Ennis is just one win away from redemption.
The then Bulldogs skipper missed the decider against South Sydney two seasons ago with a serious foot injury; the scenes of him in a blue and white jersey sitting on the sidelines is still raw in Canterbury fans' minds.
Now he's faced with the prospect of returning to the big dance for just the second time in his career if his Sharks can defeat the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night.
Victory would cap a great 24 months in the Shire; a loss would bring an end to his storied 271-game career with retirement looming at season's end.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said Ennis's arrival at the club ahead of the 2015 season not only improved his side's culture, but it also gave the wily No.9 a new lease on life.
"Michael hasn't approached it as that," he said when asked if Ennis was worried about his career coming to an end on Friday.
"I'm sure in the back of Michael's mind he's thought that this could possibly be his final week, but that's a negative thought and he's been really positive about his approach to games.
"It's his 50th Sharks game in two years. When I first bought him they said he was washed up and probably at the end of his career, but he's played 50 games in two years and he's been a quality player for us.
"I knew that he was a competitor and I knew the style that they were playing at the Bulldogs didn't suit Michael to a tee.
"I knew he liked to come out and play out of dummy-half a little bit, and he didn't get that opportunity because obviously the Bulldogs' style, they were playing off their forwards.
"He's developed and he's really enjoyed his football, and with nearly every footballer, if they're enjoying themselves then you'll get the best out of them."
If Ennis and the Sharks want to extend their 2016 premiership push into October then they're going to have to find a way to stop the juggernaut that is Jason Taumalolo.
The one-man wrecking ball was at his unstoppable best against the Broncos last week running for a jaw-dropping 265 metres and breaking a whopping 11 tackles to get his side over the line in extra-time.
Taumalolo has already tormented the Sharks this season with hauls of 181 and 194 metres in the two previous meetings, and Flanagan said the only way to limit his impact was to attack him with line speed.
"We need to get up on him, we need to cut his time down so he's not coming at us, but that's a challenge in itself," Flanagan said.
"The play the ball before can't be quick and we can't be sitting on our heels waiting. I don't know how heavy he is, but he's a big man coming at you with speed and footwork, so you've got to go at him rather than him going at you.
"We've got a plan for it, but it's easy to have it on paper and talk about it. We've got to go out there and execute."