Sharks' Ennis bows out a GF winner
Photo Source: AAP
Royce Simmons. Mal Meninga. Shane Webcke. Steve Menzies. Michael Ennis.
He might not have been a one-club man, but the Cronulla veteran joined the group of players to bow out of the game with a premiership after the Sharks' NRL grand final win over Melbourne.
And the 32-year-old did it in style at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, setting up the match-winning try for teammate Andrew Fifita and in doing so, delivering the Sharks their maiden premiership.
Ennis struggled to hold back the tears in the sheds as he attempted to come to grips with the enormity of what he and the club had just accomplished.
"Pulling out in the bus at Cronulla today and seeing everyone along the highway, all the flags, jerseys, signs and families together... it means a bloody lot to the people out there," he said.
Cronulla had dominated the game for much of the contest, but could only muster an eight-point lead as Melbourne grimly defended their tryline.
A Storm win looked inevitable when Will Chambers stunningly stole the lead late in the game, however Ennis refused to let his fourth shot at premiership glory elude him again.
"Melbourne don't get beat when they get back in front. They just seem to get it done," he said.
"Early on in that first half we were going through the middle of them. Second half we tried to go around them. We needed an extra try. When it got to 12-8, we needed to get back to us."
And that was when Ennis made arguably the biggest play of his 273-game, 14-year career.
"I saw the opportunity to play short to him and, he's best player Cronulla's ever had," he said.
Three times Ennis had suffered grand final heartbreak.
Injury robbed Ennis of appearances on the big stage with Brisbane in 2006 and then Canterbury in 2014, while his Bulldogs were gazumped by the Storm in 2012.
However he finally got his premiership ring on Sunday in what was a fairytale end to a career that the likes of Simmons, Meninga, Webcke and Menzies all experienced.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say I'd had visions of being with my kids and wife at the end of the game, and my teammates. It all came through," he said.
"I've been so close. I wanted to feel what it was like to win it. I didn't know what it'd feel like. I'd seen all the vision, but it feels good. Feels amazing."