Ellis a better import than I was, says Hanley
Wests Tigers back-rower Gareth Ellis has been described as the club’s greatest English import by the man many believed would hold that title forever.
Great Britain champion Ellery Hanley, named the greatest British rugby league player of all time in 2007, says Ellis’ feats in the black and gold eclipse anything he did for the club.
Ellis, who is confident of returning from a foot injury against the Bulldogs in round 18, has been named the Tigers’ player of the year in each of his three seasons at the club.
“He’s way up there (as one of England’s best ever imports) in my opinion,” Hanley, who is in Sydney to be inducted into the Tigers Hall of Fame at a gala dinner on Wednesday, said on Friday.
“I put him above even myself, and I believe that.
“I was a very honest player on the football paddock and did all the right things.
“(But) what he’s been very good at is being consistent. To be voted the player of the season by the Wests Tigers is absolutely wonderful.
“He deserves all the honours and big wraps he’s received. He’s been outstanding.
“There’s no question about it. He’s looked after himself and he’s a true athlete.
“It gives me great pleasure in saying that.
“To come from England and to play out in Australia in the hardest competition and to perform week in, week out consistently. He’s done a good job.”
While Ellis was humbled by the praise from Hanley, he had even better news for Tigers fans desperate to see him back on the field.
“I started running this week for the first time in about 11 weeks so that’s been different,” Ellis told AAP.
The 31-year-old, who will return to the English Super League with Hull FC at the end of the season, said while he is shattered to have missed so much of his final year with the Tigers he does see a silver lining in the injury-ravaged campaign.
A tough-as-nails player, Ellis typically is carrying half a dozen niggling injuries by the halfway mark of the year.
But by featuring in just four matches in 2012 due to a Jones fracture in his left foot, he believes the rest of his body has never felt better.
And that spells bad news for rival clubs when he makes a comeback with eight weeks left before the finals.
“There’s not many seasons you go through where you’re not nursing some injury throughout the year,” Ellis said.
“So to be able to have this time off during the year is not the greatest thing, but looking at the positives it should be a great addition to our squad when I get back.
“I’ll be a bit fresher. I can bring the boys through that are nursing injuries and add a bit of enthusiasm to the squad again.”© AAP 2013
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