THE Michael Ennis show screened at Canberra Stadium yesterday. It received five-star reviews for its all-round brilliance, but it remains to be seen if further scheduled screenings over the next week or two will go ahead.
There is a possibility they will have to be cancelled after Ennis was reported for making a so-called "chicken-wing" tackle on Canberra fullback Josh Dugan.
That incident, in the ninth minute of a game in which the Bulldogs trailed 12-0 before hitting the lead 18-16 going to half-time and staying in front from there, was the only thing that wasn’t finger-licking good about the Bulldogs hooker’s game. Ennis scored a try, set up two others, made a 40-20 kick and came up with a crucial, smashing tackle on Raiders halfback Josh McCrone that forced a turnover when the home side was deep in attack.
The battle between Ennis and Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah for the NSW job will heat up over the next two weekends. The Bulldogs are at home to Wests Tigers on Sunday, and they are the clear-cut selection choices for the City (Farah)-Country (Ennis) game the following weekend. What happens now is in the hands of the NRL’s match review committee, which will make a decision today on whether to charge Ennis.
The Bulldogs rake felt he had done nothing but complete a legitimate tackle. "I was just trying to get him on his back like every guy I tackle. I was surprised I got called out for it. There was certainly no intent in it. I didn’t feel like I grabbed his arm and twisted him. It’s just the way the game goes sometimes – these things just happen. It wasn’t as if I hit him in the chops or dropped him on his head.
"It’s never pleasant [to be reported], but I’m confident I haven’t done anything wrong. They’ll look at it and make their own decision – hopefully they’ll see some common sense and realise there was no intent."
Ennis, not wanting to appear presumptuous, didn’t want to get involved in a debate over whether he had the edge over Farah in the race for the Blues No.9 jersey.
"I haven’t got a great deal to say about Origin, because I haven’t been involved before," he said. "I’m proud to have been selected in the 40-man squad and given the opportunity. I would love to play, but you see a lot of guys get talked about for Origin and then they start to fall by the wayside. So I’m just concentrating on my footy. If I started wondering how other blokes are going or what the selectors think, it would all get too much to worry about."
Ennis revealed he had spoken during the week to his former Brisbane coach, Wayne Bennett, and that the conversation had touched on the hooker’s feeling that he was finding it difficult to adjust to the two-referee system. Bennett set him straight with some typical words of wisdom.
"I’ve got a very good coach [Kevin Moore] here, but I talk to Wayne occasionally as well," Ennis said. "And he said the great players, like Darren Lockyer, are able to play their own game regardless of the circumstances."
Canberra knew what Ennis could do. Their coach, David Furner, prepared the team to handle all of his smart plays.
"You know how dangerous he is," Furner said. "And when you talk about it and it happens, it’s disappointing."