He returns to Hull KR for the first time tonight since helping the club secure promotion last season – and Jamie Ellis is not afraid to admit he thought his long-term future would be with the Robins before an offer came from Castleford which was too good to resist.
The half-back heads back to Hull with the Tigers, looking to help his new club climb into Super League’s top-four in one of their key games in hand on their rivals above them.
But Ellis has revealed just how close he came to making his loan switch from Huddersfield permanent with the Robins – before Daryl Powell swooped in at the last-minute with an irresistible deal to join Castleford.
“I loved it there last year,” he said. “At first I didn’t really want to drop down to the Championship; I did it before when I went to Leigh, but when I was at Huddersfield I didn’t think they wanted me to stay so I went there.
“I had two years left at Huddersfield so it was all up in the air. I wanted to go back to Super League and when Hull KR got promoted, I thought, ‘I’m 100 per cent staying there’.
“But nothing came about. It was still up in the air when I was on holiday with my family when I got a call from my agent saying Cas really wanted me. With the way they were going last year, it was just before the Grand Final. I decided I want to play in a Grand Final myself and things like that.
“I hope I get a good reception from the fans; as I say, I loved it there. But it’s rugby and I’ll be concentrating on the game and if they started booing, I wouldn’t take notice of that any way.”
Ellis also admits he is growing into the role of becoming Castleford’s leader in the absence of Man of Steel Luke Gale – who is still some way from a return to playing following a kneecap injury.
“Galey is so influential on this team, but I’m just doing my job,” he said.
“I need to step up and lead them around a bit more, especially with Jake (Trueman), who is a quality player but has only just come through. Once he gets a bit more confidence, he’s going to be a bit more talkative and stuff like that, so at the moment, I’ve got to be more dominant. I like doing that and leading the lads round.”
And Ellis insists that following a year playing outside Super League in 2017, he is slowly getting to grips with the top-flight once again – and both he and the Tigers will improve steadily as the season progresses.
He said: “Everyone knows it’s tough, that step up from Championship to Super League. It is difficult, but I’m coming into a good side at Castleford and it’s easy to fit in with quality players. I’ve been here before which probably helped a bit, because we’ve still got the same sort of calls and stuff.
“We’ve not had the best season so far but there’s no other club I wanted to go to. I’m lucky to be here and hopefully we can get better and better.”