What does it take to be an elite player in the NRL? How will having a Centre of Excellence further benefit our team as they strive to bring a 2nd premiership title to the Shire?
We asked Club favourite Mick Ennis and his answers were revealing.
“Preparation is the Key”
That’s the way Mick summed up his longevity as an elite athlete in the NRL… and given he played over 13 long seasons at five clubs (Newcastle Knights, St George Illawarra, Brisbane Broncos and Canterbury-Bankstown before coming ‘home’ to the mighty Sharks), you have to take notice.
“It’s a term that’s used loosely,” says Mick, “but for me it was always about preparing as best I could to get the most out of myself during the week at training. It’s what you do when people aren’t watching that makes the difference… the hours on hours of looking after your body away from training… following the right diet and the right recovery regimen. That’s why legends like Cam Smith, Corey Parker, Luke Lewis and Gal have reached the amazing milestones they have.
“Every day of your life you’re preparing for the next game. And then once you’ve played, you can’t just lay back on the lounge with a beer and your favourite junk food. You have to stay active… keep the body loose by going for light runs. I used to involve my family in recovery by going on bushwalks with them or taking them down to the local rock pool when I wasn’t taking ice baths in the gym.”
“I always ate clean”
When asked about the importance of diet, Mick said that was a key part of his preparation. “I always ate clean,” says Mick. “I stayed safe with where I went with food, sticking to favourites like grilled chicken and veges. and the good old fashioned BBQ steak and salad, substituting sweet potato for chips.
“I found diet to be a very individual part of preparation. When I started playing, carb. loading was all the rage, but that just didn’t work for me… it made me feel heavy. So I stuck with lean meats, vegetables and salad and perhaps just a small serving of pasta the night before game day.
“I never took chances with any part of my training. Playing footy forced me to look after myself. So after club training I always did extras, whether stretching or extra physio. Mid-week on a Wednesday night I’d always make sure I did an additional 30-60 minutes stretching using those big pilates balls and TheraBands to assist with recovery.
“We make a lot of sacrifices and that’s why having state of the art training facilities is so important. That Centre of Excellence can’t come quickly enough. These days the rosters of all clubs in the NRL are so even, you have to take any advantage you can get… and even minor advances in training facilities can make a major difference to on-field performance.
“And to be able to have the highest possible quality training at our own ground, rather than having to travel to external facilities… that’s a real plus.”
So how is retirement sitting with Mick? He’s obviously loving his time as a commentator with FOX Sports and is an absolute natural in front of the camera… but what else is he doing now he doesn’t have to prepare for game day each week?
“My next challenge is a Half-Ironman”
“Believe it or not, I’m still training. I’m taking part in a Half-Ironman event out in western Sydney in November. It’s a whole different way of doing things. Playing League, it’s all about training in preparation for constant short bursts of energy, while with Ironman it’s all about endurance over long periods… three hours on a bike, an hour and a half running, etc. I’m really enjoying it, but have no idea how I’ll go.”
“Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots.”
And what has remained constant? “I still love spending time with my family of course and it’s great to have more time with the kids these days. And yes, I’m still loving my country music. I always have the CMC Channel on when I’m training, listening to guys like Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line… and Blake Shelton and Kip Moore. There’s always a great story behind a good country song.”
So Mick, while you may have hung up your boots, the work you’re doing with our young Sharks players makes it seem (in the words of Florida Georgia Line) ‘Like You Ain’t Even Gone’. J Thanks… and good luck Ironman!
You can have a listen to some of Mick’s favourite music on Spotify.