Interesting article on the DT.
No goss just facts.
THEIR rivalry was once one of the fiercest in the game — but now Michael Ennis and Robbie Farah find themselves contemplating the end of their glittering careers, albeit in different fashions.
Dumped to the reserves by Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor, Farah’s dream of being a one-club man looks all but dashed.
Ennis has taken the other path and taken control of the twilight of his career, on Tuesday announcing that he will retire at the end of the 2016 season.
Different personalities, with different skillets, the careers of Ennis and Farah have run parallel. They are the same age (32), debuted in the same year (2003) and have nearly the same amount of NRL games to their credit (Ennis has 264 to Farah’s 247).
So, in lieu of the two combatants donning the gloves and duking it out in the ring, we have pitted Ennis and Farah together over their careers to date.
Let’s decide who takes it out, season by season, this battle of two of the best hookers of the NRL era.
In their debut NRL seasons, Farah played four games while Ennis managed just one. We’re going to have to go with a No Contest in this one.
Ennis played 19 matches to Farah’s three but most of the then-Newcastle man’s games came off the bench or at lock. We’ll give it to Ennis 10-9.
This is the first year the two were established first-grade hookers. Ennis settled into a niche as Dragons dummy half (despite starting just six matches at hooker Ennis averaged 57 minutes per game — Dean Young would operate at dummy half for the opening 20) with the Red V looking like premiership material for much of the season.
Farah became the Tigers’ full time hooker and was part of the exhilarating run to the 2005 premiership, which included knocking over Ennis’ Dragons in the preliminary final. Farah’s superior attacking stats (10 try assists, 13 line breaks, six line break assists to two try assists, three line breaks and two line break assists for Ennis) and his crucial role in the premiership victory, something Ennis is yet to achieve, gives him a clear 10-9 victory.
Farah’s rise continued, making his rep debut for City. While the Tigers’ premiership defence fell flat, Farah again put up impressive numbers and notched 12 try assists. He also averaged 72 minutes, the most of his career at that point. Ennis played just five matches in his first year with the Broncos due to injury and never really got going. Farah takes it 10-9.
The Tigers struggled to replace Scott Prince and Benji Marshall played just 13 games, which meant Farah had to shoulder the attacking responsibility and it was a role he thrived in, notching 17 try assists. The Tigers missed the finals but Farah was their best player throughout and the 74 tackle busts he recorded that season remain a career high. Farah also recorded his first Hooker of the Year win at the Dally M Awards and was a runner up to Johnathan Thurston by a single point.
Ennis continued to struggle somewhat at the Broncos and actually played more games at halfback this season than at hooker. Farah takes this one 10-8.
Farah played just 17 matches in 2008, notching 12 try assists in 17 games as the Tigers missed the finals again.
Ennis had a fine season in his last year at Brisbane and adopted more playmaking responsibilities as Darren Lockyer struggled for fitness. He scored a career-high seven tries and his five line breaks were a career high at that point. The Broncos were legit title contenders until the Storm broke their hearts in the second week of the finals. Ennis rebounds ahead of his move to Canterbury and wins 10-9.
The toughest year to split the two. With the retirement of Danny Buderus, the Blues’ hooking job was up for grabs. It was Farah who got the first shot, playing the first two matches before being dropped for Ennis in Game III. Farah’s 20 try assists, 14 line breaks and 18 line break assists were all career highs to that point and he’s yet to eclipse his numbers in the latter two categories. The Tigers missed the finals again but Farah also made his Test debut in the 2009 Four Nations.
Ennis thrived in his first season at Belmore and his 18 try assists, six line breaks and 17 line break assists all remain career highs. The Dogs came close to the minor premiership while Ennis won hooker of the year and finished in the top 10 for Dally M voting. He also replaced Farah for Origin III and produced a fine performance in the Blues only win that year. We’re giving this one to Ennis, 10-9.
Farah continued his fine form and threw down 23 try assists in 27 matches, which remains a personal best. The Tigers finally broke their finals drought but lost to eventual premiers St George Illawarra in the preliminary final. This is likely the best overall season of Farah’s career — he was again hooker of the year and again ran second in the Dally M voting, this time to Todd Carney.
Ennis was solid in 2010 but the Dogs’ drop in form hurt him. He remained one of their best, with 10 try assists to his credit but he didn’t have the spark of the year before. He did retain his Blues jersey but NSW were swept by a dominant Queensland. Farah’s bad luck with Dally M medals notwithstanding, he takes this one 10-9.
The Tigers returned to the finals in 2011 with Farah again playing a starring role. Nineteen tries, 11 line breaks and 15 line break assists are standard fare for Farah at this point, with 2009-11 the strongest stretch of his career. He lost his Australia jersey to Daly Cherry-Evans and wasn’t able to reclaim his Blues jersey but in club football Farah was stellar.
Injuries derailed Ennis — he played just 12 matches as the Dogs floundered to miss the finals. Five try assists, zero line breaks and five line break assists were the lowest totals for Ennis since 2007 but he did retain his Blues jersey and had his best game for NSW in the Game II victory. Farah’s sustained form gives him this one 10-9.
Farah played just 16 games in 2012 and had his worst stats since 2005 but he managed to return to State of Origin and was one of the Blues’ best during a 2-1 series loss. His club form was only passable and the Tigers missed the finals again but performing well in Origin (he took out the Brad Fittler medal as Blues’ player of the series) is a major feather in Farah’s cap.
Ennis assumed the captaincy of the Bulldogs under Des Hasler and enjoyed a rENNISsance (am I right fellas?), leading Canterbury all the way to the grand final. His attacking stats were not as strong as previously but this was in part due to Hasler’s system. To his credit, Ennis embraced his new role and was a crucial cog in the Dogs’ minor premiership victory — but Farah’s Origin performances get him a 10-9 victory.
By this point Farah’s play was still strong and his numbers very good but there has been a slight decline from the peak of his career. The Tigers missed the finals and the ongoing saga surrounding Benji Marshall cast a shadow over the season — but Farah was still strong and continued to shoulder the playmaking responsibilities. His Origin performances weren’t great but still good enough to retain his spot. Farah also captained the Blues for the first time in the Game III defeat.
It was another solid year for Ennis but he again was not let off the leash by Hasler. Three try assists and three line break assists were his lowest totals since 2007. Ennis’ service from dummy half remained exemplary and he was a constant for the Bulldogs in a season of turmoil, but he wasn’t at his best. Farah wins 10-9.
For the first time, Farah really started to show he was entering a different phase of his career. With Luke Brooks and later Mitch Moses’ arrivals, Farah changed his playing style, seceding control to the young guns and acting more as a complimentary playmaker. As a result, his try assists dropped into single digits for the first time since 2004. He did play a role in the Blues drought-breaking series victory over Queensland, but in his 11th year Farah was beginning to slow down.
Ennis had his best season in several years, taking more playmaking responsibility and accumulating his highest try assist total since 2010. The Dogs charged all the way to the grand final, due in no small part to brilliant performances from Ennis in the playoff wins over Melbourne and Manly. An injury in the preliminary final win over Penrith cost him a second shot at grand final glory but the Ennis Comeback Tour was well and truly underway and he wins this one 10-9.
Farah’s numbers drop again in terms of attacking stats as the Tigers continue the transition from being a Robbie Farah team to a Brooks-Moses vehicle. Another run as Blues captain in Game I of 2015 and some quality touches in Game II precipitated an injury-impact withdrawal from Game III. The Tigers skipper had a major bust up with coach Jason Taylor and the club missed the finals for the fifth year in a row.
No prizes for guessing who replaced Farah in Game III. Ennis toiled hard but was powerless to stop the Maroons onslaught in the 52-6 belting. It was the only blemish on a remarkable debut season in the Shire. Free to embrace his attacking instincts, Ennis thrived throwing up 17 try assists and 14 line break assists, his best numbers since 2009. He scored his second hooker of the year gong and was fourth in voting overall. This one was 10-9 Ennis all the way.
You know how this season has gone for Farah. He was injured, then benched, then dropped. Calls came for him to be sacked by the Blues after the Game II defeat and then he was sent to NSW Cup as part of his ongoing feud with Taylor. It remains to be seen if he is at the club next season.
Meanwhile Ennis has enjoyed another terrific year and will duke it out with Cameron Smith and Josh Hodgson for his third hooker of the year gong, which would see him surpass Farah. Still averaging close to 80 minutes and with 10 try assists to his name so far he will outpoint Farah on that count for the second year in a row. Regardless of the Sharks performance from here on, Ennis wins this 10-8.
Farah gets the win 123-122 after 14 seasons, which feels right. Farah was capable of hitting greater heights as a player, as evidenced by his two near-miss Dally M seasons and his stronger performances for New South Wales. But his club career suffered by comparison due to a lack of finals campaigns — just two in the 10 seasons following the 2005 premiership.
Ennis was more adaptable and versatile — he’s played at five different clubs and had fine moments at all of them, often playing vastly different styles. Farah has more Origin caps and Ennis has never played Test football but Ennis dominated the head to head battle 14-5 and has played 15 finals matches to Farah’s nine. Farah has been the better player but Ennis has enjoyed more sustained success.