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England second rower Gareth Ellis is no longer in awe of the Kangaroos nor does the two-time Wests Tigers Player of the Year believe they are invincible as he prepares for this month’s Four Nations tournament.

Ellis, 29, says his past two seasons in the NRL with the Tigers have given him confidence to compete against Australia and the other nations - New Zealand and Papua New Guinea – in the event from October 23 to November 13.

“When I played against Australia a few years ago I felt that way … in awe of them,” Ellis said. “But not now … it just takes some confidence and self-belief.

“It’s definitely been good for me personally playing against the majority of the Australian players week in week out in the NRL.

“Hopefully because I’ve done it the other players from England will have been looking and see that it can be done.

“The players here are not invincible; they have their weaknesses,”

Many Australian players and commentators have identified Ellis and South Sydney Rabbitohs’ 2010 English recruit Sam Burgess as keys to England’s Four Nations’ campaign because of their outstanding form in the NRL.

However, it is the “mental” lessons Ellis has learned more than the physical ones that he will be delivering to his English team-mates when the 24-man squad gathers in Auckland tomorrow (Friday, Oct 8).

England coach Steve McNamara will have eight days to prepare his side for a warm-up match against the NZ Maori on Saturday week (Oct 16) before their opening Four Nations match against the Kiwis in Wellington the following week (Sat, Oct 23).

“The dominance Australia has had over England in the last 20 years is probably one of the reasons the players have been less confident,” Ellis said.

“It is something the coaching staff has worked on – trying to get rid of those thoughts that Australia - and the Kiwis - are unbeatable.

“Hopefully the young lads in the team will take confidence from myself and players like Adrian Morley who have done well playing here (in Australia).”

Ellis said he is excited about the new faces in the English team along with the inclusion of several experienced players; and the decision to appoint Morley captain, in place of the injured Jamie Peacock, and Roosters coach Brian Smith on the coaching staff.

“I am really looking forward to working with Brian,” Ellis said. “He had a great year at the Roosters and hopefully some of that success and confidence will rub off on us.

“Having Adrian as captain will be huge, especially for the young players. Jamie Peacock will be sorely missed, but Adrian’s a great choice to step into his shoes.”

Ellis is also looking forward to the challenge of playing against Tigers team-mates Robbie Farah and Chris Lawrence (Australia) and Benji Marshall (New Zealand) as well as his club coach Tim Sheens, who is the Kangaroos coach.

“Knowing the coach helps … I know his ways and some of his ideas,” Ellis said. “Australia has a good team with some very good players but a few of the barriers have been broken down.”

Ellis was a renowned defender when he arrived in Australia but has added a strong attacking dimension to his game since playing with the Tigers and Sheens.

“Since coming to Australia my attack has been the big thing that has improved,” he said. “Tim Sheens is a great coach and his thoughts and theories have helped my game in attack.

“Playing with the Tigers and players like Robbie and Benji has had an impact too – some of their things have rubbed off on me as well.

“I pride myself on trying to improve every year and I feel over the last two years I have stepped up in ability to be able to compete at the level I need to in the NRL. It’s a tough competition.”
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