Gareth Ellis – Why I’m playing on

Gareth Ellis admits that the disappointment of Hull’s finish to the 2019 season, as well as a desire to lead them back to the Grand Final, were among his reasons for opting to carry on playing next year.

Ellis has signed a new one-year deal with the Black and Whites, meaning he will be the oldest player in Super League next year, given that he turns 39 in May.

And he admitted to League Express that having seen the squad the club has put together for 2020, he couldn’t resist going round again.

“We’ve had a few disappointing finishes to the seasons since I’ve been here,” he said.

“As the year was going on and I saw players like Manu Ma’u, Mahe Fonua and Josh Jones commit, you start to think this team could be a real force next season.

“If I were a player, which thankfully I still am, then I’d really want to be a part of this squad. We’ve got an opportunity to do something special now, and get to the Grand Final. It will be only down to us if we fail.”

Ellis insists that having had 18 months out of the sport, before he returned for Hull’s golden-point victory at Wigan on 24 February, his body still feels refreshed, as does his mind.

“Going back to 2017, when I was considering retiring, I was struggling physically and mentally,” he revealed.

“The little niggles become a bit more serious and my head space wasn’t quite right. But now I want to go and enjoy it next year. I know I’ll be 39 and it’s there in the back of my mind, but I have to be smarter with the coaching staff about how I’m feeling to earn my right to be selected in the side.

“If Radders (Lee Radford) had initially asked me last year to play the rest of the season, I would have said no. But as the year went on, I realised I still had a bit of a taste for all this. It’s still there, and it’s played a part in me deciding to go again.”

But Ellis promises he has not committed to another playing deal without any thought about whether he can deliver for Hull.

“The big thing in my decision process was whether I could still perform,” he said.

“I don’t just want to do this for the sake of it. Radders was saying last year he needed me to play. That made me feel good, and persuaded me that I’ve still got something to offer. So I will do whatever I can.”

On the prospect of carrying on into 2021 and playing as a 40-year-old, he joked: “I don’t know if that sits well with the game, a professional 40-year-old player running around. My focus is the next 12 months and getting stuck in, and you never know what’s around the corner, do you.”