Gareth Ellis claimed the lure of winning silverware overruled his heart as he yesterday signed for Hull FC.
The England star, who will quit NRL outfit Wests Tigers at the end of the season to return to Super League, had his sights on an emotional return to former club Leeds Rhinos or his hometown of Castleford Tigers.
But the Black and Whites pulled off what the club called “one of the biggest signings in the club’s history” by enticing Ellis on a lucrative three-year deal.
The 30-year-old, a three-time Wests Tigers player-of-the-year, will be reunited with head coach Peter Gentle, whom he worked with in Australia.
It is understood Hull had to beat off fierce competition from virtually every club in Super League, with many inside the game expecting a return to Headingley for Ellis.
“I said originally that I would maybe like to return to one of my old clubs or my hometown club in Castleford,” said Ellis. “But when I looked at it and thought about it more, I realised I still really wanted to win things and achieve things and I really believe I can do that at Hull FC.
“I was lucky to have a few clubs interested, but I’ve been listening to Hull and to the ambition they have got and the prospects they’re trying to put in place for the future and the bottom line for me was that it was a great time to be involved with Hull FC,” added Ellis, who started his career at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
“I did a lot of research into the club and speaking to the likes of Peter (Gentle), Adam Pearson and Shaun McRae, I really started to share their enthusiasm and I believe the club can be anything it wants to be.”
The second-row has proven to be one of England’s greatest exports to the elite competition in Australia, producing some stunning displays for the Tigers, having left Leeds Rhinos in 2008.
Gentle, who worked with Ellis during his time as assistant coach to Tim Sheens at Wests, believes the club have signed one of the best back row players in the world.
“If we’re looking to take this club to another level, we need the addition of one or two class players to bring out the best of the talented squad we currently have in place – we have definitely achieved that with the signing of Gareth,” he said.
“It’s not only about what he brings to the team on the pitch, but having a world-class player interacting with our young squad members will have a significant influence on their development and will enhance the culture we have at this club.
“Despite stiff competition, we are pleased he has decided to take on the challenge at Hull FC, having given us the chance to present the ambitious plans we have for the future.
“Like when we signed him for the Tigers, he opted for us over, potentially, some more lucrative offers for the challenge he faced and the ambitions of the club. When we spoke recently about joining us in Hull, it was a very similar story.
“Gareth was all too aware of our ambition and targets and money was far from a motivating factor in his decision.
“He has always been one to accept a challenge and step out of his comfort zone to challenge himself.
“He did that when joining the NRL and now he wants to do that again with us on his return to Super League.”
The RFL have agreed a new contract that will see the BBC broadcast the Carnegie Challenge Cup for the next five years.
The deal ensures that the Carnegie Challenge Cup final will continue to be broadcast live on BBC1 until 2016. The BBC will also broadcast live matches in the fourth and fifth rounds, quarter-finals and semi-finals for the duration of the contract.
RFL chairman Richard Lewis said: “It gives me great pleasure to confirm that the Challenge Cup will remain on the BBC for the next five years.
“The Challenge Cup has a rich heritage and I am delighted that the competition’s long association with the BBC is to continue.
“The visibility and profile afforded by the sport’s presence on the BBC and the BBC iPlayer is hugely important and we look forward to working with the BBC as they showcase all the excitement and drama from the Carnegie Challenge Cup and Stobart Super League.”
Last year’s final between Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos was watched by a TV audience of 1.61m people, a 19 per cent increase on the corresponding figure from 2010.
CAREER FACTFILE: GARETH ELLIS
Born Castleford, May 3 1981.
1999: Joins Wakefield after junior career at Castleford Lock Lane. Made over 100 appearances for Wildcats.
2005: Made his debut for Leeds Rhinos in the World Club Challenge against Canterbury Bulldogs.
2008: Named in Super League Dream Team after helping Rhinos to Grand Final win over St Helens.
2009: After 109 appearances for Rhinos, Ellis joins NRL’s Wests Tigers on three-year deal.
2011: After being named Wests’ player of the year every season, Ellis announces he will join Hull FC for 2013.
Honour of staging World Cup tie goes to Galpharm
The Galpharm Stadium will today be revealed as the venue for England’s World Cup meeting with Ireland next year.
World Cup 2013 organisers will announce the fixtures for the tournament, which takes place in October and November next year.
It kicks off at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday, October 26 with an opening ceremony, followed by a double-header as Wales take on Italy and co-hosts England face old rivals Australia.
Wembley Stadium will also host a double-header with both semi-finals being played there on the same day, before the final moves to Old Trafford on November 30.
As well as facing England in Huddersfield, the Irish team will be the adopted country of the Galpharm Stadium and news of the decision has been welcomed by the Kirklees Council leader Cllr Mehboob Khan, who said: “We are delighted to be hosting this fixture, which is the only guaranteed England match in West Yorkshire.
“It is fitting that England will play in Huddersfield, the birthplace of the Rugby League.
Warrington expect full-back Brett Hodgson to be in contention for tomorrow’s Stobart Super League trip to Wigan.
The 2009 Man of Steel has missed the Wolves’ last two games with a back injury.
Former Huddersfield Giants favourite Hodgson had hoped to play in last weekend’s defeat of Wakefield at the Halliwell Jones Stadium but failed to prove his fitness.
First-team assistant coach Richard Marshall said: “I don’t think he could have played last week but he has trained this week with a view to playing.”
Playmaker Lee Briers is expected to shake off a hip problem while the club have been encouraged by hooker Michael Monaghan’s return to action after a short lay-off for surgery.