Gareth Ellis: 'I could have slotted back in at Leeds, but I want to make Hull FC a force’
AS he walked through the Hull FC offices at the KC Stadium for the first time this week, Gareth Ellis couldn't have missed the significance of his signing for the Black and Whites, writes James Smailes.
Ubiquitous, Ellis found his face smiling back at him almost everywhere he turned.
His face adorning season pass brochures, posters on the wall and a soon to be launched marketing campaign for the club's new strip, Ellis is, without doubt, the new face of Hull FC.
The first marquee signing of the new regime, six months have now passed since his three-year deal was announced, but that time has only served to build the anticipation.
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Whether he wanted that pressure is secondary, the England international knows his arrival brings with it huge expectation.
But as he sits down for his first interview back on English soil, it becomes immediately clear Ellis is using the pressure to his advantage
"The only pressure I really feel is the pressure I put on myself," he said, relaxing back in his chair.
"I've never played a game where I have gone out and given less than 100 per cent.
"I have good games and bad games, but I'm always giving 100 per cent, and that is all I can do for this club.
"I will go out every week and give everything I've got to play to the best of my ability.
"Sometimes I'll have better games than others, but the effort will always be there.
"There is pressure because this city is expecting something, but so am I. I share those expectations. I will embrace the pressure of this move and hopefully it will bring out the best in me."
Ellis' excitement is tangible. Pictures on the wall of greats such as Peter Sterling, Lee Crooks and a fellow West Yorkshireman who also started his career at Wakefield in David Topliss, cast their eye over Hull's latest superstar.
Surrounded by Hull heroes, the opportunity to be spoken of in the same breath as those three by Hull fans is not lost on Ellis.
He knows FC fans have been starved of success, and that the club has under-performed for some time.
Convinced the barren days can be brought to an end, Ellis admits to being enticed by the challenge of becoming part of folklore in Hull, just as the likes of Sterling, Crooks, Topliss and the team of the 1980s are.
"This is a really exciting time for Hull FC. I think I can add something to this team both on and off the field and the challenge of that is something I am excited about," he adds.
"Everyone in the game knows Hull have never fulfilled their potential, they can though, and I want to be a part of that."
It took just one video call from his Sydney suburban home back to owner Adam Pearson's office at the KC to convince Ellis where his future lay.
"I had a conversation on Skype with Adam Pearson, Peter Gentle and Shaun McRae and I got the impression straight away it was the right club for me," says Ellis.
"It was the right time in the club's history, they are intent on becoming a force in the game and the opportunity to help them with that was very appealing.
"I came away from that video call with the club thinking this is the club for me. The balance of the senior players and the young players in particular was very attractive, and I bought in to what they are trying to do."
Hull's acquisition of Ellis didn't surprise many, given the Black and Whites' rigorous pursuit of the back-rower.
And yet for many a return to his former club Leeds always seemed the obvious move.
It's an assumption Ellis agrees with, admitting a return to Headingley would have been much easier.
"Part of the attraction of coming to Hull is the chance to make this club a force again," he said.
"It would have been so easy for me to go back to Leeds, slot straight back in, and probably hang my bag on the same peg too.
"But I felt for me to progress and step up my game again I needed another challenge and to step out of my comfort zone again.
"Having spoken to the people at the club I was excited. It is a massive challenge to get this club back up there, but I'm up for that challenge and am confident we can make it."