After weeks of careful negotiation, and heated competition with the Bradford Bulls, Gareth Ellis has finally chosen the Rhinos over our West Yorkshire rivals. The twenty-three year old utility player will take the Rhinos number 20 shirt, left vacant when the squad was named in late November.|
Ellis has spent the last few months in a tug-of-war between Wakefield, Leeds and Bradford. It was clear to Ellis that his future was not at Wakefield, but the original sticking point at Leeds was over the length of contract. Ellis wanted a two year deal, whereas the Rhinos wanted to tie him in to four seasons. The 'player swaps' offered by Bradford were neither satisfactory to Wakefield, nor the players being offered.
Negotiations broke down between Wakefield and Bradford on Christmas Eve, with the Rhinos then stepping back into the fray. Ellis realised that it was a four year deal with the Champions, or another season at Belle Vue, leaving him with little real option.
Leeds have paid a 'substantial' transfer fee, but we can afford that. Ellis will be on a fair salary, but once again we have room under the cap to accommodate him. The only worry will be that Ellis's reputed Â£65,000 a year may upset a few of the Rhinos young stars.
Ellis will be officially unveiled before the friendly against York City Knights at Bootham Crescent on the 3rd January 2005, but will not figure in the game due to continued recuperation after his GB exploits. It is likely that Ellis will make his Rhinos debut in Barrie McDermotts Testimonial game against Oldham at Headingley on the 21st January.
I think that this is a good signing for the Rhinos. Ellis has been the Wildcats standout player for 2004, and showed up well for GB in the Tri-nations. He is useful in the second row, or at centre, and will step into the large void created by the loss of Adamson and Furner. The former being allowed to leave, only as a result of us being in the running for Ellis as early as the middle of last season.
I'm looking forward to seeing this fella cause some damage in 2005.