Tigers X-Factor: Gareth Ellis

Hard-running back rowers are a must in the modern day game. Those who have a reputation for being able to run hard, hit hard and create an offload are a rare breed, but the Wests Tigers appear to have one in Gareth Ellis.<br><br>That is if he can transfer his Super League form to the pressure cooker atmosphere of the NRL. It’s a question Wests Tigers fans are hoping will be answered with a resounding “yes he can”.<br><br>The English import is looking towards a bumper debut season in the NRL. He knows the transition won’t be easy but come September he hopes the Tigers will be seeing finals footy for the first time since their 2005 premiership and will be looking to emulate the success of the last Brit to play in the NRL, Adrian Morley.<br><br>“If I could be half as successful as what he was when he was over here then I’d be a happy man. He was a great player in England and was a great player over here,” said Ellis. <br><br>“The way he played and the way he did it is what people respected, but he had to work hard at it. I spoke to him before I decided to come over here and he was saying it won’t be an overnight thing where you go over and be an instant success and that’s what I have prepared myself for.<br><br>“The big thing for me when I was thinking about coming over here was a lot of people who had played in the NRL said my game suited the way it’s played over here so that gave me the confidence to come out and I feel like I haven’t needed to adjust too much.”<br><br>For those who don’t know Ellis, the Great Britain and England international, has been a star in Super League, helping Leeds Rhinos to the 2008 title. But here in Australia his biggest challenge awaits as he tries to cut it in the best league in the world, hopefully springing a surprise or two on unsuspecting rivals.<br><br>“I see the whole adventure as a challenge I suppose, but the biggest one will be on the field.&nbsp; I’ve had reasonable success in England but that’s gone now so I have to put that to one side. It’s all new and I’m starting again. That’s the thing I’m looking forward to, no one knows what to expect from me. I think that’s to my advantage and something I’m looking forward to.”<br><br>While fans and opposition may not know exactly what to expect from Ellis, he knows what to expect from the faster Australian game.<br><br>“I think my general game needs to improve, but the big things are getting the cohesion going and understanding the opposition as well. <br><br>“Teams’ attacks are a lot more threatening over here, there is a lot more speed out in the centres. That’s where the big threats are with most teams and I need to improve my game across the board.<br><br>“The big thing is linking up with the halves and getting the cohesion with Benji and Johnny Morris and the centres and linking up with them. It’s not a massive thing I had to adjust to just the little things that come with joining any new team.”<br><br>While Ellis is excited about the prospect of a combination with Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall it is his second row partner Chris Heighington who he is most excited to be playing alongside.<br><br>“Since I was a young fella I’ve never been he most skilful player and I’ve always prided myself on being someone other players wanted to play alongside.<br><br>“Over a year ago I signed for Wests Tigers and I’ve been drip fed a few DVDs from Tim Sheens over the year and Chris is one player I’m looking forward to playing alongside. He’s come on in leaps and bounds and certainly has rep potential.”<br><br>While Heighington has no doubt developed, the team itself has gone backwards since its maiden premiership in 2005, languishing in the bottom half of the table with results of eleventh, ninth and tenth in the past three seasons.<br><br>Ellis though is confident they will arrest the slide in ‘09, the club’s tenth year and says they are ready to put the disappointment of recent seasons behind them.<br><br>“The team proved they have the quality and the skill in ‘05 winning the competition and I think it’s probably been a little disappointing and everyone feels they have under achieved since then, but that’s the exciting thing for me because I feel they are ready to push on and emulate those good times back then and hopefully I can be part of that.”<br><br>