Tigers vow to seize chance to deliver Ellis a premiership
February 29, 2012
THE news that this will be the last season for Gareth Ellis at Wests Tigers has rammed home to his teammates that this season may represent the best chance they will ever have to win the premiership.
The Tigers announced yesterday that Ellis, the 30-year-old English Test second-rower who was contracted until the end of 2013, would be released a year early so he could return home with his wife and young son.
Keith Galloway, the Tigers prop who broke into Test football with the Australian side last year, reacted to the news by saying: ''I’ve got no idea what next year is going to bring for us, but there’s no doubt Gareth is going to be a massive loss.
‘‘We can only worry about this year, and with Gareth and the rest of the players we’ve got at the Tigers it is a side that can win the premiership … and Gareth has proved himself one of the best forwards in the game.’’
Another of the representative stars at the Tigers, hooker and captain Robbie Farah, said that if the team was well-placed to challenge for the title approaching the finals, the fact Ellis was leaving could become a factor that draws the players even closer together.
‘‘If we’re in a good position then that sort of thing can happen, but at this early stage it’s business as usual,’’ Farah said. ‘‘It’s a long year ahead, and Gareth is certainly going to be an important part of it for us. He’s the best signing the club has ever made. The sort of bloke he is, there’s every chance he’ll go out by producing his best season yet.’’
That would be one hell of a season from Ellis. He has won the club’s player of the year award in each of the three years he has been at the club, despite the fact Farah and Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall regularly play well enough to finish near the top in Dally M voting.
Tigers players were well aware Ellis was considering going home after this season. Midway through last season he extended his stay at the club until the end of 2013, but included in the deal a clause allowing him a release at the end of this year if he wanted one.
‘‘I feel the time is right for me to return to England,’’ Ellis said. "It was a difficult decision to make as I have really enjoyed my time at Wests Tigers. Everyone at the club has been terrific to me and my family, and I couldn’t ask for more.
‘’[But] I have a young son now, and my wife Rachael and I feel it is time to head home to our families at the end of this season. I can assure Wests Tigers supporters I will be giving it my all to ensure the team finishes as high up as possible so we can give ourselves another strong chance of winning the premiership.‘’
Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said that while the club would be disappointed to see Ellis go, they wanted to do the right thing by him. ''Gareth will leave Wests Tigers with our blessing - and hopefully an NRL premiership," Humphreys said.
News that Ellis will be departing at the end of the season came on the same day as the Tigers announced they would be introducing one of their bright young stars to first grade in Sunday’s round-one game against Cronulla at Leichhardt Oval.
James Tedesco, 19, played fullback in each of the club’s two pre-season trials, but coach Tim Sheens never confirmed him as a starter for the season opener until the team was announced yesterday.
‘‘James made the most of the chance he got in the trials,’’ Farah said. ‘‘We’ve got great faith in him going into the start of the season.’’
This year is a wonderful opportunity. It would be a real shame for Ellis not to get a chance to just play in a NRL grand final.
But footy is a fickle beast. Even the most red-hot favourites lose. All the players can do is their best. Do it for Ellis, but also do it for everyone else in the team. There is no guarantee any other player will be there next year. Just look at Taniela…