NRL: Dogs can't get caught up in duels - Ennis

Michael Ennis is interviewed during a Canterbury Bulldogs NRL media day. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Ennis is interviewed during a Canterbury Bulldogs NRL media day. Photo / Getty Images

Canterbury have the utmost respect for Melbourne's 'Big Three', but Bulldogs skipper Michael Ennis says his side can't get caught up in one-on-one battles in Sunday's NRL grand final.

Ennis will go head-to head with the best No.9 in the game in Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith - one third of a triple Storm threat which also features Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.

But the personal duel will take a back seat to team-oriented goals for Ennis - despite the Bulldogs rake acknowledging the importance of keeping Smith quiet around the ruck.

"Coming up against Cameron Smith, obviously he's the benchmark in our position and it's always a good challenge," Ennis said.

"I respect Cameron very highly, he's a terrific player and a terrific fellow, so I know I'll need to be at my best in my side and not worry about what Cameron's going to do for Melbourne.

"If you go into a game like this trying to win personal battles, you're letting your teammates down.

"I've got a role to play in this side and I don't think Cameron Smith or your Cooper Cronks or your Billy Slaters are blokes that can be nullified individually.

"They've got wonderful support around them.

"I know they talk about the big three, but there's plenty of other guys in their side that are terrific players."

But Smith, Slater and Cronk seemingly hold the key, with their play having a mesmerising effect not just on fans, but opposition players as well.

"Some days you're caught gazing, just standing there watching Billy because he's such a great player," Bulldogs Dally M winning fullback Ben Barba said.

"Sometimes you tend to switch off and just stand still and just watch what he does.

"Obviously I can't do that this week or he'll be scoring a few tries."

There's little chance of the Bulldogs not being switched on however, not with coach Des Hasler at the helm.

Hasler has been to three of the previous five grand finals with Manly, and was confident his youthful squad would handle the pressures associated with grand final week.

But just don't tell him his squad has overachieved to make it this far.

"If you want to use those terminologies, it tends to put limitations on you that you're overachieving," Hasler said.

"They've worked really hard and they've been extremely competitive and because of that, they get to play on Sunday.

"It's a week quite unlike any other.

"They know it (the pressure, is) all part of it, they'll handle it okay.

"At the end of the week on Sunday there's still a game of footy to be played."

- AAP

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