Cronulla backrower Wade Graham says criticism of Michael Ennis will be “water off a duck’s back” to the veteran rake, who has come under fire from Canberra coach Ricky Stuart.
Stuart blasted Ennis in the media, accusing the hooker of disrespect during post-match celebrations in the Sharks’ win over the Raiders on Saturday.
Ennis mocked the Raiders fans’ viking clap as he walked off the field following the Shark’s two-point qualifying final victory.
Sharks back-rower Wade Graham denied Ennis was being disrespectful and said it was just his competitive nature shining through.
“Mick’s been doing it for 15 years so it’ll be water off a duck’s back for him,” Graham said.
“I don’t really want to comment on it in case it’s out of context but I think everyone is a different person when they cross that white line to play the game.
“That’s what Mick has built his game on – he’s competing as hard as he can and I don’t think you can get into a bloke if he turns into a beast when he’s competing at the highest level.”
Winger Valentine Holmes also hit back at suggestions Ennis had crossed a line and had a sly at the Raiders’ coach, saying he was best served concentrating on this weekend’s elimination final against Penrith.
“It’s just the competitor he is, I don’t think it was anything too bad,” Holmes said.
“(Stuart) should be worrying about the game they’ve got coming up because they’ve got a big game against Penrith.”
While Ennis said he was simply trying to acknowledge the Sharks fans in the crowd at Canberra Stadium, Stuart was having none of it, saying he would have “hauled him over the coals” had he been one of his players.
“It was offensive,” Stuart told News Corp.
“To have to sit there and watch him rub our fans’ noses in it after the game was disrespectful and typical Michael Ennis.
“Players have a responsibility and you can’t act the way he did after the game and then try and pretend it was all in good fun and it was not offensive.”
Stuart also accused Ennis of having a fake media persona, claiming his on-field actions were a better indication of his real character.
Ennis had his own take.
“There was a small pocket of Cronulla fans throughout the stadium and I was just clapping because I was stoked that we won,” Ennis said after the match.
“If it has come across like that then it is disappointing because I certainly wasn’t being disrespectful, that is for sure.”