Ennis: NSW selectors making one massive mistake
FORMER NSW hooker Michael Ennis has given the Blues selectors a tick of approval for the side they are expected to announce tonight but he says they have made one monumental error by leaving out his 2016 premiership teammate Wade Graham.
Graham has not been included in the 17 that has been leaked to the media, a non-selection that has flabbergasted Ennis despite the fact that he has a possible one-week suspension hanging over his head.
Graham has played the last four Origin games for the Blues and had a massive impact on the side with his leadership and versatility to play on an edge, through the middle or even at hooker, five-eighth or centre if required.
That versatility is largely catered for by the expected selection of Panthers utility Tyrone Peachey but even with NSW skipper Boyd Cordner occupying Graham's preferred left edge, Ennis would have had him in the side ahead of Rabbitohs young gun Angus Crichton.
"He's so composed, so crafty, yet so tough and so competitive," Ennis told Fox Sports.
"His left foot kicking game is a huge string to his bow.
"Now if Maloney's under pressure, Cleary in his first night in an Origin jersey, to have that experience that Wade Graham brings and also his all-round nous of ballplaying and when to run those tough lines, I just think, we see the Queenslanders they come out and pick (Josh) McGuire who hasn't played for a number of weeks, yet Wade knocks out an 80-minute performance (against Newcastle and doesn't get picked).
"I think to have someone like Wade Graham on your bench, it astounds me that he didn't make that Origin side."
Graham is an incumbent not only for NSW but also Australia and Ennis said his experience on the big stage would be missed given the youthful approach Brad Fittler has taken to his squad.
It's a valid point, although it may become moot if Graham is suspended for a week after he was cited for dangerous contact on Kalyn Ponga in the Sharks' thumping victory over the Knights on Sunday.
If Graham was selected by the Blues he would have to successfully fight the charge at the judiciary tomorrow night.
Ennis said Crichton was a good young player but did not add as much to the squad as what Graham could offer.
"It's a great reward, he's played well over the past month for South Sydney and there club form has been terrific but I just think you get so much more from a Wade Graham, the whole rounded package of what he brings," Ennis said.
"And I know he was desperate to play in that Blues jersey, Crichton's the man who would have missed out."
While bringing Graham in for Crichton would be the change Ennis would be most insistent on he would also have made room for teen Raiders winger Nick Cotric who is having a superb second season in the NRL.
Cotric won't turn 20 until November but Ennis already sees him as a slightly superior winger to Josh Addo-Carr.
Addo-Carr has been in terrific form and is set to line up on one flank, with Manly star Tom Trbojevic on the other.
Ennis would leave Trbojevic in the side but would bring Cotric in for one of Addo-Carr, James Roberts or Latrell Mitchell.
"They've rolled the dice with that all-out attack with Roberts and Mitchell which means (Cotric) becomes the unlucky one," Ennis said.
"Trbojevic could have played in the centres with either Mitchell or Roberts getting that other spot or potentially Euan Aitken and then you could have gone Addo-Carr and Cotric."
"It's hard but I can't ignore Cotric's form, I'd have him ahead of Addo-Carr."