They may be playing each other for the first time this Sunday afternoon – at Belmore Sportsground no less – but veteran Sharks rake Michael Ennis has offered Bulldogs five-eighth and his daughter Evelyn's godfather Josh Reynolds a glowing appraisal for the way he's handled himself throughout the season.
Dropped from Laurie Daley's New South Wales team in May, while also fighting to even remain in the Bulldogs No.6 jumper throughout the year due to the emergence of young gun Moses Mbye, Ennis credited Reynolds for the way he's pushed forward.
By the time they face off on Sunday, it will be just a week since Ennis's one-year-old daughter's christening in Caringbah, though he suspects the sentiment of the occasion won't matter as their respective teams fight to remain in the top eight.
"Josh has handled himself really well through the ups and downs of the year. Whether he's been starting or off the bench, his form has been incredible to be honest," Ennis said.
"He just adds so much to the side. Something always seems to be happening around Josh when things are on and he's such a talented player. He's been exceptional especially defensively last week against Manu Ma'u.
"We're good friends but I'm just looking forward to playing, and playing well on Sunday, and then having a beer with the boys after the game and talk about how great a spectacle it was.
"While the Monday night [Belmore game in Round 16 against Melbourne] was enormous for them, I think what they have endeavoured for from the beginning is a Sunday afternoon [game].
"Terry Lamb and all the other legends at the Bulldogs always used to talk Belmore games on a Sunday and how there wasn't anything better so it should be a great occasion."
Considering he skippered the Bulldogs to the grand final last year, though failed to play due to a broken foot, Ennis is hopeful he'll receive a good reception at the club's spiritual home.
If not, Ennis said he and his teammates won't be overawed by the occasion.
"I think I left on really good terms. I still obviously have a lot of good friends there at the club and they understood the reasons why it all unfolded last year and the fans were terrific to me over the six, seven years I was there so hopefully that hasn't changed," Ennis said.
"I know how much has gone in to them getting back to Belmore. I'm grateful we get the chance too, I know all us boys are looking forward to it.
"I'm there to fulfil my role for Cronulla though. There's no doubt I'll take the scenery in when we get there but I don't think anyone will be overawed by it. The atmosphere will bring out the best in everyone."
This article first appeared on NRL.com