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Rugby, Australian Football: Ellis joins Leeds Rhinos

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posted on Dec, 30 2004 @ 08:05 AM
Super League champions Leeds Rhinos have swooped to sign Great Britain international Gareth Ellis. The 23-year-old Wakefield Trinity skipper looked set to see out the remaining 12 months on his contract with the Wildcats after Bradford joined Warrington, Hull and Leeds in pulling out of the bidding at Christmas. But the Rhinos went back for their man this week and completed the transfer for an undisclosed fee, thought to be in excess of 200,000.

Ellis, who played in four of Great Britain's five matches in the recent Gillette Tri-Nations Series, joins the champions on a four-year contract with immediate effect.

"It is a great move for me," he said. "Leeds is such a big club and I can't wait to get started.

"I have a lot of respect for Wakefield and I thank the club and supporters for their support over the years. I will always be grateful to them.

"This move will give me the opportunity to play at the highest level and hopefully win further honours."

Ellis was set to join Leeds in October after the two clubs agreed a deal but the move collapsed when the player rejected personal terms. Leeds have said the deal is the same one that was originally offered. Chief executive Gary Hetherington said: "We are building something special here at Headingley and to sign a Test player who has already played over 100 games in Super League but is still only 23 is great for us."

Wakefield coach Shane McNally said he had a number of candidates in mind to take over the captaincy and that Rob Spicer would be likely to take over Ellis' place in the first-team squad.

"It's disappointing but there is no point in dwelling on it," he said. "We've got to move on.

"It gives someone else an opportunity to step up and I am sure young Rob Spicer will relish the chance to further establish himself.

"The cash means there is an opportunity to go into the market place if any player becomes available that we want."

Ellis will be officially unveiled to Leeds supporters before their pre-season friendly against York at Bootham Crescent next Monday. Rhinos coach Tony Smith said: "I am really excited about the signing. As much as Gareth has already achieved in his career he also has so much potential to fill and I am looking forward to working with him.

"He is a player we have admired for a while and it is great that he sees his future here with the Rhinos.

"We had always hoped that he would want to join us and I have been impressed by his determination to succeed and achieve at the highest level."


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