Selfless veteran Michael Ennis insists his newly-announced retirement must not distract from Cronulla’s quest for a maiden NRL premiership.
Ennis surprised the rugby league community on Tuesday when he announced that he was knocking back a one-year extension to hang up his boots at the end of the NRL season.
The decision means that, in his 14th and final season, the hooker has one last shot at an elusive premiership ring.
However Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said Ennis was quick to shoot down any mantra of the ladder-leading Sharks, currently on a club record 15-game winnings streak, doing it for him.
“The decision Michael’s made based on how he feels and for his family is a selfless act,” said Flanagan.
“Michael will not make this about him for the remainder of the year. He spoke to me about that.
“Hopefully we finish in that last game of the year but it’s not about Michael, it’s not about any one player at our club.
“But in the back of our minds, how good would it be to send him out a winner.”
Ennis has long been chasing a breakthrough premiership.
He tore his knee in round five and failed to make it back onto the field for Brisbane’s 2006 triumph, and was captain of Canterbury in their 2012 grand final defeat to Melbourne.
He was also forced to pull out of the Bulldogs’ 2014 loss in the decider to South Sydney.
While enamoured with the idea of a fairytale finish, Ennis said he simply wanted to be remembered as a player who tried hard for his teammates.
“Come that first weekend in October, if we get an opportunity to be there, I’ll drive out of the ground for the last time knowing that I always competed as hard as I could for my teammates,” he said.
“That’s one thing I’ve always tried to base my game around.
“It might not always be pretty, it might not always be the flashiest, but I try and give everything that I can for the guys that I play with and away from football.”
Flanagan said Ennis, who was runner up to Johnathan Thurston as the Dally M Player of the Year last season, would be departing the NRL on top of his game.
“From my perspective as his coach, to be playing his best football of the last two years of your contract is something special.
“I know the playing group will miss him, but he’s got 10 games to go.”
ENNIS’ ILLUSTRIOUS NRL CAREER
* 264 games at Newcastle, St George Illawarra, Brisbane, Canterbury and Cronulla
* Eight State of Origin games for NSW
* 2009 Dally M Hooker of the Year
* 2015 Dally M Hooker of the Year