Ectastic Hull win race for Ellis
21st March 2012
Hull FC are celebrating a major coup after securing the prized signature of England forward Gareth Ellis.
The Black and Whites have lost their last 11 matches against Leeds Rhinos but they achieved a notable victory over their arch rivals today with the capture of the 30-year-old second rower.
The former Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Leeds player sparked a clamour for his services last month when he announced he would be quitting Australian club Wests Tigers a year early to return to England for family reasons.
Salford City Reds were thought to be the only one of the 14 Stobart Super League clubs not to express an interest, with Leeds seen as favourites to re-sign their former player, whose last match for them was in their 2008 Grand Final triumph.
Ellis had also excited Castleford Tigers fans by suggesting he might finish his career with his home-town team, but, in the end, opted to follow his former coach at Wests Tigers, Peter Gentle, to the KC Stadium.
“I was lucky to have a few clubs interested but I’ve been listening to Hull and to the ambition they have got and the bottom line for me was that it was a great time to be involved with Hull FC,” said Ellis, who will take up a three-year deal in November.
“I did a lot of research into the club and, speaking to the likes of Peter, (owner) Adam Pearson and (director of rugby) Shaun McRae, I really started to share their enthusiasm and I believe the club can be anything it wants to be.
“I said originally that I would maybe like to return to one of my old clubs or my home-town club in Castleford but, when I looked at it and thought about it more, I realised I still really wanted to win things and achieve things and I really believe I can do that at Hull FC.”
Ellis has been a major success in the NRL, winning his club’s player-of-the-year award in each of his three seasons.
And Gentle, who was assistant coach to Tim Sheens at Wests Tigers until this year, believes he remains one of the best back rowers in the game.
“If we’re looking to take this club to another level, we need the addition of one or two class players to bring out the best of the talented squad we currently have in place and we have definitely achieved that with the signing of Gareth,” he said.
“It’s not only about what he brings to the team on the pitch but having a world-class player interacting with our young squad members will have a significant influence on their development and will enhance the culture we have at this club.
“Despite stiff competition, we are pleased he has decided to take on the challenge at Hull FC having given us the chance to present our ambitious plans for the future.
“Like when we signed him for the Tigers, he opted for us over potentially some more lucrative offers for the challenge he faced and the ambitions of the club.
“When we spoke recently about joining us in Hull, it was a very similar story. Gareth was all too aware of our ambition and targets and money was far from a motivating factor in his decision.”
Hull director of rugby Shaun McRae believes the signing will be hugely significant for the game.
“I firmly believe this will be one of the last major signings to come from the NRL, albeit Gareth returning home, and we are delighted that it is a signing for Hull FC,” he said.
“This will send a stark message to our fans and our rivals that we are a club committed to making significant strides over the coming years.
“To be a successful club and one challenging for honours you need players of Gareth’s ability. He is a world-class footballer, a fine athlete and terrific professional and we can’t wait to start working with him.
“He’ll add another dimension to our play on the field and will bring experience and leadership to the culture we are trying to embrace and promote off the field.”