Ellis better for NRL switch
Second-rower relishing French test
Last Updated: 10/06/10 9:09am
England and Wests Tigers second rower Gareth Ellis believes his game has improved significantly since leaving Super League for Australia's National Rugby League.
The 29-year-old is one of three NRL-based players named in Steve McNamara's England side to tackle France in the Gillette Fusion international on Saturday.
The former Leeds and Wakefield forward, who left the Rhinos at the end of the 2008 season, believes the gamble of testing himself in the NRL has paid off.
"I think in each chapter you create as a player, you improve," he said.
"You're under different coaching staff, you get different opinions and views from different people, take them on board and improve.
"I think that in my time Down Under I've definitely done that, under the coaching of Tim Sheens and his staff. I definitely think he and the move have brought me on as a player."
Saturday's showdown with France at Leigh marks the start of England's preparations for this winter's Four Nations series.
And Castleford-born forward Ellis insists he never gave the 17,000km trip from Sydney to Manchester a second thought after being name in the squad.
"I wanted to come over straight away, without a doubt," he said. "I was so keen to be involved in this squad. You don't take playing for your country for granted, it's a privilege every time you pull on the jersey.
"That's why Sam Burgess was also so keen because it's a special occasion for every player.
"It's a Test match and it's an opportunity to represent my country again and build on the progress we made in the Four Nations last year.
"It's positive to be here and I look forward to playing amongst this group of players rather than seeing it as an obstacle."
Ellis, who has been around long enough to recognise a squad with potential, feels the future is bright for English rugby league and will do all he can to help with the 2013 World Cup on the horizon.
He added: "The future is looking good for English rugby league with the amount of young lads who are part of this group this week and it bodes well for the big one - the 2013 World Cup.
"It's like any other week really except you're with an elite group of players who are here to train hard and it's nice to be amongst that sort of company.
"We can all learn a bit and I'm sure I'll pick up one or two things.
"I've been involved with the England squad for a few years now and it's always exciting, particularly with this group."
Ellis, who was his club's player of the year in his debut season, recently signed a new contract that will keep him at the Tigers until the end of the 2013 season.
"It's really great," he said. "The rugby side of things is brilliant but the lifestyle makes it that bit better. I'm really loving it."