Emerging Eel shaping as Queensland Origin hope
LIKE any proud New South Welshman, Michael Ennis feels uncomfortable when talking up his interstate rivals - save for Parramatta Eels and emerging Queensland star Reed Mahoney.
"It's always strange asking a NSW man about a Queenslander, but I really like Reed," Ennis said.
The rugged rake from Beerwah put his body on the line 1221 times in 2019, leading the tackling stats for the NRL.
His passing is crisp and out in front, allowing halves pairing Dylan Brown and Mitchell Moses to hit the ball with speed.
With Maroons hookers Ben Hunt and Jake Friend entering the twilight of their careers, Ennis believes the Kawana Dolphins junior is in the frame for State of Origin selection - but adds he still needs to sharpen his short passing close to the line.
"I have no doubt Kevvie (Walters) will have his eye on him (Mahoney) - that traditional dummy-half position is certainly open," Ennis said.
"I love his service from dummy-half. He gets great width on his passes. His short kicking game is starting to develop.
"He is just tenacious, a terrier around the ruck and will do whatever is asked of him.
"He has built up a really strong combination with his halves and he will work on the individual game plan with his forwards around the ruck. But he is on a rapid rise."
Parramatta go into the 2020 season with an unchanged spine, which Moses says is key to success.
Moses believes Mahoney, who turns 22 in April, is nailed on for higher honours.
"I hope so. Reed's only played like 30 games and had a great season in pretty much his first year," Moses said.
"His passing is outstanding. I can stand 20m away and he'll hit me on the chest every time.
"He helps me move on to the ball and how he gets it there so quick is pretty special.
"Hopefully he is in for a big year. He just needs to simplify things and he'll be right."