Jamie Ellis relishing second chance with top targets Castleford Tigers

CASTLEFORD TIGERS will be the team everyone wants to beat this year '“ but new recruit Jamie Ellis insists they can handle that pressure.

Jamie Ellis, pictured during his first spell at Castleford Tigers.

Tigers finished 10 points clear at the top of Betfred Super League in 2017 and produced some of the most exciting attacking rugby the competition has seen.

They are among the favourites for the title this season and Ellis – beginning his second spell at the club – predicted: “I think everyone is going to go after us this year.”

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The half-back said: “I think they caught people a bit by surprise last year, but they were the best team by far.

Castleford Tigers head coach, Daryl Powell. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA

“People have got to catch up to that level if we play the same sort of rugby. We know people are going to come after us, so we are ready for them.”

Competition for places will ensure Tigers maintain their high standards, according to Ellis.

He added: “There’s a lot of talent in this squad, as everyone sees when they play.

“It is going to bring the best out of all of us. There’s a lot of competition, especially in the forwards, but the halves, wingers, everyone has to be on their toes because there’s someone behind them chomping at the bit to get a game. It is going to be good throughout the squad.”

Castleford Tigers head coach, Daryl Powell. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA

Ellis is expected to be one of Tigers’ first-choice half-backs, alongside Man of Steel Luke Gale, with last year’s stand-off Ben Roberts moving to full-back in place of the suspended Zak Hardaker.

“I just can’t wait for the season,” Ellis added.

“Galey has been one of the best halves in England for a few years now and hopefully partnering up with him is going to bring the best out of me.

“I have got the likes of Jake Webster on one side of me and Mike McMeeken on the other and hopefully they’re going to bring the best out of me as well so I am looking forward to it.”

Ellis made 44 Super League appearances for Tigers, scoring 10 tries, 80 goals and a one-pointer, during his previous spell at the club from 2012-2014.

He then had two seasons at Huddersfield Giants before impressively piling up 349 points – from 158 goals and eight tries – in 30 appearances for Hull KR last year.

He was a key member of the Robins’ Championship promotion-winning squad, but admitted returning to Tigers was a dream move.

“I love it,” he said. “I shouldn’t say I should never have left – I don’t regret anything – but coming back it’s the same coaches and there’s a lot of faces I’ve kept in touch with since I left.

“It has been good, they’ve all been welcoming and I am enjoying it.

“I watched a lot of their games, especially when they got to the Grand Final and I was just thinking I want to be involved in those games.

“Thankfully Daryl (Powell, Tigers’ coach) has given me another chance to do so and, hopefully, we can go one better this year.”

Ellis will miss Sunday’s pre-season fixture at home to Leeds Rhinos after suffering an ankle ligament injury in training last week, but expects to be fit for Tigers’ Super League opener at St Helens on Friday, February 2.

“The physio reckons it should be a couple of weeks, so it’s not too bad,” he said. “Hopefully I will be ready for the first game.

“It is just one of those things, part of rugby league.”