Hull FC's Gareth Ellis: It's time for us to get the job done
GARETH Ellis understands the pressure of expectation better than most.
Arriving at Hull FC as the club's marquee signing and with a reputation that precedes him, of all the new arrivals at the KC Stadium in recent years he's the one both able and ready to cope with the fevered anticipation at the Black and Whites.
Four years at Leeds Rhinos were the grounding for a four-year spell in the NRL with West Tigers that didn't deliver trophies, but brought plaudits that propelled him up the world order to become one of the most respected forwards in the game.
Walking into Hull for his first day of training last month, the difference between Ellis and other signings from the NRL is Ellis understands Hull, not only their tradition and history, but also the desperate need of the club's fans to see former glories restored.
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It's that challenge he signed up for almost a year ago when coach Peter Gentle convinced him his future lay at the KC.
With the 2013 season looming, Ellis is acutely aware the pressure is on both himself and Hull to do well.
It's a pressure he'll meet head on and, having settled into life as a Black and White, he's convinced his new team-mates are equally ready to justify the increased expectation at the club.
"Everyone has bought into the philosophy Peter has created at this club of wanting to be the best," explains Ellis after another day training in Tenerife.
"In my time in Super League, that wasn't the Hull club I knew and I don't think I'm wrong in saying that.
"Most people would agree Hull were never one of the best sides, but that's what we are striving to be.
"There seems to have been an attitude change at this club. There's a lot of talk about this club in the game and about what we are going to do this year.
"Now it's time for the players to go out there and do it.
"The talking has all been done, the training has nearly all been done, now it's time for us as a group of players to go out there and get the job done."
Strong words from a strong presence within the side. Ellis' influence is there for all to see at training.
Alongside captain Andy Lynch, he sets the tone and standard each day, talking to the younger plays with both advice and encouragement.
It's exactly the scenario Gentle was craving when he signed Ellis and fellow experienced forward Ben Galea.
As he speaks following a tough training session, players are scattered all around him, breaking into groups for a kicking game led by Gentle, to play football or to head to the gym for an extra workout.
"How good is this," says Ellis, interrupting.
"That's what makes these trips so good. If we were back home we'd finish training and everyone would be showered and then straight off home.
"It's great to see the boys having a laugh together, it brings us closer and helps the new boys settle in."
As one of those new boys Ellis has had no trouble settling into his new surroundings.
Familiar with his coach from their days at Wests together, and with many of the players as either international team-mates or opposition Super League players, he admits it feels like he's been at Hull longer. That transition has been equally easy on the field, although with new calls, attacking and defensive structures to learn, he says it may take some time before both he and his side start to flow in 2013.
"When I went from Wakefield to Leeds I didn't really know anybody and when I went to Australia I didn't know a soul, but I've slotted in really easily at Hull and it genuinely feels like I've been here a long time already," added Ellis.
"Knowing Pete and having played with and against a lot of the players before has helped.
"What I need to do now is adjust to the technical side in terms of getting all the calls down, and also learning about each player's individual preferences.
"It can take a while to get to know each other inside out and be able to second- guess what the guy next to you will do, and that's why in the first few weeks of the season it is so important to get your defence right.
"We are getting through a lot of defensive work and if you can get that right early in the season it puts you in good stead for when your attack clicks and you are firing on all cylinders."