Arriving at the Cronulla Sharks in November of 2014, Michael Ennis laced up his boots for the start of his 13th pre-season in the top grade – and for the third time in his career, in different colours to the club that he had played at the year prior.
Gearing up for a gruelling pre-season on the infamous Shire sand dunes, the 31-year-old hooker said he felt a world away from his former Belmore base, but closer to home and ready to give his all for the Cronulla cause.
Excited by the proposition of playing alongside fellow representative players and good mates Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis, ‘The menace’ has proven an astute purchase for Shane Flanagan’s side.
And now well into the 2015 season, good judges have said that Ennis’ form has rivalled that of 2009 season, when he claimed the honour of being named the Dally M Hooker of The Year.
“The role the Sharks have given me here, my teammates and how they’ve embraced me here, the style of footy that I play and how they’ve supported me with that, I’m just really enjoying my football at the moment,” Ennis said.
“I’m enjoying the Club, and the direction that it’s heading. It’s is a combination of a lot of things.
“I got an opportunity to be a part of helping the Sharks in the direction in which they wanted to go in, and I’ve always been a person to fully commit to the challenges that I try and take on. I feel like I’ve done that this year, and I’ve still got a lot of footy left in me, and I’m really enjoying it at the moment.”
From the time the Lake Macquarie-product made his name known on the NRL’s stage in 2003, Ennis has since been held as one of the game’s greatest competitors.
A noted leader, the Sharks' rake said that stepping back from his former captaincy role at the Bulldogs has added another dimension to his game, and that he – and the rest of the Cronulla squad – are reaping the rewards in their surge to September.
“It’s been nice to take a step back from the captaincy role, but to still be able to put my advice and my leadership towards the younger guys here like Jack (Bird) and Val (Valentine Holmes), that’s been really enjoyable,” he said.
The ever-transparent and honest number nine made no secret that his exit from the Bulldogs was not one that sat well with him, initially.
But having settled into the Cronulla mould with relative ease, Ennis said he is enjoying his football more than ever despite heading into the supposed ‘twilight’ years of his career.
“I’d had such good mates there (at the Bulldogs), and I played there for such a long time. There was an empty feeling about leaving there, “ Ennis said.
“But there was also a huge excitement about playing in the area in which I live, and with the quality of guys that are in this side, and for the staff that are here.
“I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed being here this season, that’s for sure. It feels like I’ve played with some of the guys here for ten or so years, and there's no reason we can't go all the way.”