Birthday ‘survival’ treats but do I want to play on after 40? - Gareth Ellis

IT was my 39th birthday yesterday. When you get to that age everything’s pretty insignificant anyway and obviously in lockdown it just becomes like any other day.

Hull FC's Gareth Ellis.

I was up and out for a little run in the morning but I think the kids were more excited than me.

Age has never really bothered me before but I think this is probably the first time – knowing that it’s coming next year – 
where the big 4-0 has loomed on me!

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As for this birthday, it has obviously been different to any other due to the coronavirus.

My mum and dad sent me some survival things around – Pringles, a packet of biscuits and a bottle of red wine – and my sister sent me some cheese and biscuits so that left me sorted for a day of indulgence.

I don’t know if it was intentional but I was able to not lift a finger all day so maybe that was my present – not having to do a great deal!

It’s just been like any other day, though, really, a bit like the last six or seven weeks.

Will I still be playing rugby league this time next year on my 40th birthday?

I have always thought I’d play until I was quite old.

I remember when I came back from Australia and was speaking to Jamie Peacock about it and the number of games we’d played.

I said how I’d only played about 75 or 80 matches in four years over there in the NRL and he said that would put a few years on my career. JP reckoned I’d end up playing until I was 37 or 38 and I said how I would take that.

But then I retired originally at 36 so there was always that thought in me about whether I’d gone a bit too early.

It was great to get the opportunity to come back.

Yet – on the flip side of that – I don’t think I fancy being a 40-year-old player! It’s not until you think about being that that it dawns on you!

I was speaking to my sister yesterday morning about that asking where has all that time gone?

It doesn’t seem two minutes since I was a kid at Wakefield, kicking a ball around in a street in my spare time just enjoying myself with Broughy, Ben Westwood… and you do think where does it all go from a young lad with all your life ahead of you to a middle-aged bloke which I suppose you are at 40!

I don’t know. I’m not ruling it out but after a bit of a rest now my plan is just to focus on finishing this season as best I can and enjoying it really.

The key thing now is to just go out there and just enjoy playing rugby again, a bit like I was when I was 22 or 23.

I’ve got that mentality and want to go out on a high. If we win something then brilliant and, if not, then I’ll just enjoy the experience as playing rugby has been a fantastic period of my life.

In terms of early birthday presents, though, what great news that the sport received that £16m government loan on Friday.

I saw it made the national news and it seems to be a bit of a one-off; I don’t think any other sports are getting it and we are, at least, the first to be granted this loan.

It has obviously been well planned, well thought out and well pitched from the RFL and Super League and, by the sounds of it, it is obviously much-needed funds with how owners and clubs have talked about how desperate times are for our sport.

It has come at a very good time and is really well-received.

How far £16m goes, I don’t know and where it goes I don’t know either so it will be interesting to see how that effects the clubs over this immediate time of crisis.

As for getting back to playing, there has been no real developments this week.

And, until the general social distancing measures that are in place at the minute – lockdown – are changed or updated I don’t think there is anything we can do in terms of sport.

Once they are at a level where you can adapt the game in some way, then things will hopefully change but, for now, we just 
have to wait and see what happens.