Ellis’s return will spark scramble among clubs

I’D imagine the phone of the well-known player agent David Howes has been ringing itself off the proverbial hook over the last few days.

Because Howes represents Gareth Ellis, the Wests Tigers and England back rower who made himself the hottest property on the transfer market when he confirmed his intention to return to this country in 2013.

Ellis has been nothing short of a sensation in the NRL with the Tigers, winning the club’s player of the title in each of his three seasons.

When Kiwi superstar Benji Marshall is one of your teammates, that’s going some.

Ellis was already a very fine player when he left Leeds to head for Sydney and in all likelihood he’s better now than he was then.

The queue for his services is likely to be a long one, with the Rhinos, Hull and probably St Helens among his more realistic suitors.

The 30 year old’s hometown club, Castleford, would be Ellis’s ideal destination, having said publicly during last year’s Four Nations tournament that he would like to finish his career there.

The Tigers are presumably keen to have him on board and - presumably - will be able to find the money to pay for him.

But with Howes making noises about Ellis still being “ambitious” to win things, it would take a considerable leap of faith on the player’s part to head to Wheldon Road.

Their coach Ian Millward is certainly a persuasive kind of character, but can he convince one of the world’s best player’s the Tigers are within touching distance of trophies?

I’m not so sure, which I would imagine makes a return to the Rhinos for more likely.

THE announcement that Hemel Hempstead will be joining Championship One next year, along with Northampton - and, we expect, clubs from Kent, Wales, the South West, Kazakhstan and Bolivia* - is only likely to heighten the mad scramble among the established professional clubs to escape to the Championship this season.

While the Rugby Football League will presumably be footing the travel bill for a team, let’s say Workington, to trek up and down the country each weekend, it can hardly be an appealing prospect for players, fans or coaches.

Given that wages in Championship One nearly always amount to match payments only, the idea of spending 10 hours on a bus every other weekend, being away from your family, arriving home at stupid-o-clock then getting up to go to work on Monday morning, all for the sake of £150 or so, is oddly unattractive.

I’m guessing that, for a lot of players, turning out for their local National Conference side will be a more palatable idea.

*To be confirmed