June 25, 2024

Gareth Ellis reveals why he rejected Castleford, Leeds, Wigan, Warrington and St Helens upon his return to Super League with Hull FC

Throughout a 21-year career, Ellis made his mark with Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos, Wests Tigers and Hull FC, earning a reputation for himself as one of the toughest players to ever take to the field.

It was no surprise then that Ellis commanded the interest of every Super League club after deciding to leave Australia at the end of the 2013 NRL season with Wests.

Gareth Ellis: Hull FC forward announces retirement | Rugby League News |  Sky Sports

After turning down London Broncos, Catalans Dragons, Wakefield, Hull KR, Widnes Vikings, Huddersfield Giants, Bradford Bulls and then-named Salford City Reds, Ellis began seriously thinking about the other clubs on offer.

“I wavered slightly before ruling out Castleford. Playing for the Tigers would have been a nice way to end my career. They were the club I supported as a boy and my family still followed them but, in 2012, they weren’t the side they would become a few years later. They also had financial issues so couldn’t compete with the other offers on the table. So, with some reluctance, we also turned down Cas,” Ellis writes in his autobiography Never the Easy Option.

“That left five: Leeds, Wigan, Warrington, St Helens and Hull. Wigan were very professional throughout. I knew Mark Bitcon, their conditioner, from England duty and he had said some very nice things about me to Kris Radlinski, then their football manager. I was also impressed that they would help me after I finished playing with further education and qualifications. I knew many of their lads from England duty so it would’ve been a comfortable environment…but the big sticking point was travelling over the Pennines every other day for training.

Gareth Ellis: Hull FC forward announces retirement | Rugby League News |  Sky Sports

“Warrington’s offer was a good one too, but, in all honesty, I didn’t give it as much consideration. Although they were a top club, I didn’t feel much affinity for them and the detail of their offer and level of interest wasn’t the same as at the other clubs I was considering.

“St Helens were, from day one, the most attractive from a financial point of view and their owner, Eamonn McManus, told me he would organise a flat for me in Manchester, showing that they understood my concern about travelling…but I was really looking for somewhere nearer to our families.

“It came down to a straight choice – Leeds or Hull. Leeds were the obvious candidates and my first preference…It was easy and just a little too convenient. I would be doing the same as before. I needed something different.”

So why Hull?

“Hull were still a long way short of Wigan, Leeds and St Helens in terms of their competitiveness on the pitch, but that was part of the challenge.

“If I could play some part in getting them to the level of those three, I would have achieved something with what remained of my career. I wanted to be at the heart of everything that happened at the club, setting the standards and leading from the front and that included the offer of being club captain. I was motivated by that responsibility.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *