Ellis eyes Grand farewell
England forward Gareth Ellis is beginning the countdown to the end of his Leeds Rhinos career.
Last Updated: 17/09/08 12:29pm
Gareth Ellis is hoping to extend his Leeds Rhinos' career all the way to the Grand Final.
The second rower is departing Headingley Carnegie at the end of the season to join Wests Tigers in Australia's National Rugby League.
He is hoping to sign off with a second successive Grand Final victory at Old Trafford on October 4.
The 27-year-old, who will fly Down Under a week later with England for the World Cup, is aiming to help the defending champions book their place in the engage Super League showpiece when they take on St Helens in Friday's qualifying semi-final.
"The season seems to have flown by," he said. "It doesn't seem two minutes since we played against Melbourne.
"Normally at this stage, everyone is ready for the end but everyone is feeling fresh, which is testament to the coaching staff for putting programmes in place to keep us fresh.
"There is a lot of rugby still to be played. In 10 weeks' time I could be sitting here talking about winning a Grand Final and winning a World Cup. That's what makes this time of the year so exciting."
Ellis missed out on the chance to make a first Wembley appearance when Leeds lost to Saints in the Challenge Cup semi-finals and is desperate to secure more silverware before he brings his four-year spell in West Yorkshire to a close.
"It makes me even more determined to end it in a successful manner," he added.
"Playing for Wests next year is something that is going to happen later.
"I made the decision at the beginning of the year and I think that was the right thing to do. I've been able to put it to one side and get on with things.
"The reality is that every game has been the last one of its kind but the special ones that you really remember are the ones coming up. It would be a dream to finish my Leeds career at Old Trafford."
Ellis, who was named in the World XIII for 2007, was this week included in the Super League Dream Team for the third successive year and admits he has found his form at the right time of the year.
"I'm pretty pleased with my own personal form," he said.
"It has reflected Leeds' form, which shows how everyone relies on other people for you to play well.
"We set off well, had a bit of dip in form in the middle and we're coming good at the end. It's hard to play 28 games exceptionally well but we're coming together as a team.
"We've strung some good performances together. Our defence has been strong and that puts us in good stead for the critical games coming up.
"We will probably have to play better than we've played all year to win the Grand Final."
Leeds lost at Knowsley Road in the qualifying semi-final 12 months ago before going on to beat Saints at Old Trafford, but Ellis would be happier to avoid having to play in the final eliminator this time.
"We're going into the game determined to win and get into Grand Final at the first time of asking," he continued.
"That might be the winning formula this time around.
"Every game is a tough game and to add more games to the fixtures is going to be tough. Saints are a great team who will be very hard to stop but, if we are playing well, we have the players to do that."