Bulldogs prop James Graham says his skipper Michael Ennis is not a disrespectful NRL player.
Canterbury have come to the defence of skipper Michael Ennis, refuting Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy’s claims the Bulldogs hooker acted disrespectfully towards Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith.
Ennis came under fire in the post-mortem to the Bulldogs’ upset 28-4 dismantling of the Storm in Sunday’s NRL elimination final.
Bellamy accused Ennis of disrespecting the Australian, Queensland and Storm skipper after he rubbed Smith’s head after Smith had made a mistake.
Just two weeks before Ennis, often described as a serial pest by opposition teams, earned the ire of South Sydney, particularly halfback Adam Reynolds, in Souths’ round 25 win, for his niggling tactics.
But Bulldogs prop James Graham said on Wednesday, that is just Ennis at his gamesmanship best.
“He is a good mate of mine, I really don’t think he means any disrespect by it,” Graham said on Wednesday.
“It may look like that but I don’t think he means any disrespect.
“It is just Mick being Mick and in that moment in the game he saw an opportunity to do the best for his team and his teammates and he patted Cameron Smith on the head.
“I have had it done to me, it’s not great.
“I don’t know if the victory was down to just that, maybe he got under his skin a little bit, you would probably have to ask Cameron Smith.”
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was doing his best to deflect attention from the issue ahead of Saturday’s semi-final against Manly.
“I didn’t view Craig’s comments about Mick, he was talking more about Generation Y,” Hasler said.
“It is the heat of the battle, Mick has come out and said he wasn’t being disrespectful.
“What happens on the field stays on the field.”