As their 14-year-old rivalry comes to a head, tensions between Cameron Smith and Michael Ennis linger ahead of Sunday’s NRL grand final.
The two veteran No.9s will stand opposite each other one last time before Cronulla rake Michael Ennis hangs up his boots.
Throughout their careers, the two have been contrasting figures – Smith the ultimate statesman while Ennis has earned his reputation as the game’s premier niggler.
Ennis, nicknamed “The Menace”, has on more than one occasion attempted to get under Smith’s skin and in 2014 he was roundly criticised as disrespectful for patting the Queensland and Australian skipper on the head.
Smith predicted Ennis would try to put him off his game during the season decider but vowed not to take the bait.
When asked if he had ever been rattled by Ennis, Smith said: “Nah. I try to keep my calm.
“He might try to do it again on Sunday.
“My focus is about me, my teammates and my role in the side.
“I’m sure we’re going to cross paths at some point during the match.”
The Sharks provided a blueprint for the rest of the competition when they put the Storm off their game with some early niggle during their round four 14-6 win, with Ennis leading the way.
After that match, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan admitted his side went in trying to unsettle their opposition and praised his troops for rattling the Storm’s cage.
Ennis also famously slapped Storm halfback Cooper Cronk when the two sides met last year and the Sharks appear set to look to him to provide spark on Sunday.
“That’s just Micky,” Smith said.
“I actually get on with him quite well off the footy field. That’s part of the role that he plays.
“He’s a competitor and he’s out there to do the best for his team. We’re all the same.”