Ellis to become a Tiger
Forward thinking only of Leeds and England until end of year
Last Updated: 08/02/08 10:14pm
Ellis: Leaving Leeds
Great Britain forward Gareth Ellis will leave Leeds Rhinos at the end of the season to join NRL side Wests Tigers.
"Leaving Leeds Rhinos will be a massive wrench and my focus for the rest of the 2008 season will be a massive year for me."
Gareth Ellis Quotes of the week
The 26-year-old former Wakefield second rower has agreed a three-year deal to move Down Under from the start of the 2009 campaign.
Ellis, who was linked with a move to another Sydney club Manly Sea Eagles last year, played a key role in the Rhinos' championship triumph last year.
He was also shortlisted for the Golden Boot award after helping Great Britain to their 3-0 Test series win over New Zealand.
He will become the first Great Britain forward to switch to the NRL since another ex-Leeds player, Adrian Morley, joined Sydney Roosters eight years ago.
"If the opportunity to test myself in the NRL had not arisen, I would have had no hesitation in agreeing a new contract with the Rhinos and I never considered joining another club in Super League," he said.
"However, my partner Rachael and I, plus our respective families, are excited by the prospects of a change of lifestyle, coupled with my personal challenge on the field, especially at this stage of my rugby career from 2009."
Although Ellis will be moving on he insists he will remain fully focused on helping the Rhinos try and defend their Super League title.
He also has one eye on the World Cup at the end of the year when he hopes to be part of the England squad to take part in the tournament.
"This has been a life-changing decision based on my personal career goals to play at the elite level in both Super League in the UK and the NRL down under, complemented by international honours," he said.
"Leaving Leeds Rhinos will be a massive wrench and my focus for the rest of the 2008 season will be a massive year for me.
"I want to help my team mates and coaches achieve the club's objectives of winning the Carnegie World Club Challenge, the Carnegie Challenge Cup and the Grand Final.
"Then, hopefully, to receive the invitation to play a part in England's bid to lift the World Cup in Australia in the autumn.
"Only after that will my attentions turn to my personal challenge to prove myself in the NRL with Wests Tigers, who have impressed me with their ambition to repeat their Grand Final success of 2005."