Hull FC v Leeds Rhinos – Gareth Ellis braced for ‘surreal’ rematch with former club

HULL FC’S Gareth Ellis admits he never thought he would face Leeds Rhinos again – and is still “haunted” by his last appearance against his old club.

Gareth Ellis and Dannyy McGuire embrace at the end of the Super League semi-final clash at Headingley in September 2017. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The former Great Britain forward retired after the Black and Whites side he captained lost 
18-16 at Headingley in the 2017 Super League semi-finals.

Hull had been on course for a first Grand Final appearance since 2006 before Ellis’ dream finale was ended by a late Leeds try.

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However, having come out of retirement last month and helped FC to back-to-back wins, the 37-year-old will face them again at KCOM Stadium this evening.

Gareth Ellis and Danny McGuire at the end of the Super League semi-final between Leeds and Hull in September 2017. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Ellis conceded: “To think 18 months on from that night, I’m out there playing against them once more, it is quite surreal really. It was quite an emotional night for myself that play-offs one.

“I’ve struggled to watch it back since, that Liam Sutcliffe try where he seems to have something on him and we just couldn’t bring him down.

“It still haunts me to this day. Personally, being my last game and being at Leeds – where I had so many fond memories – it became a really disappointing night.

“That was the first time I probably got to reflect on what was then a 19-year career.”

Ellis won two Grand Finals with Rhinos before moving to the NRL with Wests Tigers in 2009.

Leeds have won just once in their opening five fixtures this term, despite the arrival of new coach Dave Furner and a raft of expensive overseas recruits.

They lost heavily 35-18 at home to Wakefield Trinity last week while Hull won at Huddersfield having ended their 13-game losing run at champions Wigan the week before. Ellis said: “Leeds were pretty good against Saints, put in a good performance against Salford and have had a couple of scrappy ones, too.

“But the thing with Leeds is they have some real quality players and they’ve added to that with the likes of Konrad Hurrell and Trent Merrin. I expect them to bed in eventually and with all the games I’ve played for Hull v Leeds they’ve always turned up and given us a tough game particularly at KC. We’re expecting that team.

“They copped some criticism last week so we expect some reactions from that. But we have to concentrate on us.”