Rugby League - Ellis relishing Super League opener

Former Leeds favourite Gareth Ellis will take centre stage on Friday night when he goes back to Headingley as captain of the visitors.

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Rugby League - Ellis relishing Super League opener
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Gareth Ellis is looking forward to taking on former club Leeds

The clash between the reigning champions and an ambitious Hull side led for the first time by Ellis on his return to Super League promises a mouth-watering start to the new season.

"When I found out it was Leeds in the first game I was really excited," said Ellis, who has taken over the Hull captaincy from Andy Lynch. "I've got fond memories and great friends there. I think it's quite a fitting way to return to Super League."

The 31-year-old second-rower's last appearance in Super League was in the 2008 Grand Final at Old Trafford, where he helped the Rhinos retain their crown before leaving for Australia.

Ellis's decision to end his four-year stay at Wests Tigers, where he was player of the year in each of his first three seasons, sparked a mass clamour for his signature involving every one of the 14 Super League clubs.

He looked certain to return to Leeds and held talks with chief executive Gary Hetherington but, after agonising over his decision, he eventually opted for a fresh challenge in east Yorkshire, where owner Adam Pearson has big plans to challenge the big four.

"My first thought was to go back to Leeds," he said. "But the more I thought about it, I wondered if it was because it was the easiest decision for me.

"In the past, making the step up from Wakefield to Leeds brought the best out in me and so did moving from Leeds to Wests Tigers. As much as they are uncomfortable, challenging situations seem to bring the best out in me.

"Sometimes it's not the right thing to go back. I've no doubt I would have enjoyed going back to Leeds but where I am now is something different, something challenging for me at this point in my career."

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