Michael Ennis is holding out hope of finishing his career with an Australian Test swansong by earning his first green and gold jumper at 32.
The Cronulla hooker will play the final game of his NRL club career in Sunday’s grand final against Melbourne but is still hopeful of earning a surprise call up for Australia’s end-of-year Four Nations tour of England.
While that ship had seemingly long passed, Ennis has found the best form of his career in his last two seasons at the Sharks.
And he could hardly ask for a better audition than a head-to-head duel with Storm and Australian captain Smith in the season decider.
“I’d love it but I don’t know what (the selectors’) thoughts are,” Ennis said.
“You never give up hope but I’m not naive enough to not know Cameron is the Australian captain and a wonderful player and the player that will be picked (at hooker).
“But I’m not sure what they’ll do. Maybe they’ll take a back-up. I’d certainly love to be a part of it.”
Ennis made eight appearances for NSW during his 14-year first grade career but never managed Kangaroos selection, stuck behind Smith and Robbie Farah.
It remains to be seen if coach Mal Meninga will take a back up rake as cover for skipper Cameron Smith on the Four Nations.
If Meninga does go down that parth, Sydney Roosters captain Jake Friend would also be firmly in contention after standing out in the Prime Minister’s XIII big win against Papua New Guinea on the weekend.
Ex-Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens selected a back-up rake in his squad on the national side’s three previous tours – the 2011 and 2014 Four Nations and the 2013 World Cup.