Former England forward Gareth Ellis will be a man on a mission in 2016 as he sets out to prove he has still got what it takes to play at the top level.

The 34-year-old Hull FC captain has been sidelined since last July with a torn Achilles tendon but is nearing a comeback and, out of contract with the Black and Whites this year, knows he will be playing for his future.

Ellis, who had highly successful spells with Leeds Rhinos and Wests Tigers before joining Hull FC in 2013, has never been far from injury in his three years at the KC Stadium but says he has lost none of his confidence and passion for the game and is desperately hoping this season will not be his last.
Gaz Ellis
“It’s certainly been frustrating in two out of the three years but I’m confident in my level of performance when I’m out there,” Ellis said.

“I’m 35 this year but I still feel good. You get to this age and you appreciate the game more because you know the end is not too far in the distant future.

“I do have a lot of enthusiasm for the game, I’m really excited about coming back and playing.

“I’m sure there will be nerves about getting injured again but that’s the nature of the game. When you play a certain way and at a certain level, there is always going to be a risk of injury no matter whether you’re 19 or 35, that’s just the way it is.

“It’s imperative for me to be out there this year. My contract is up and obviously an injured Gareth Ellis is not going to be something that is particularly inviting to a new contract.

“I’ve a lot to prove to myself in terms of getting back to where I was playing last year and trying to get a new contract and prolong my career a little bit longer.”

Ellis, whose debut for Hull FC in 2013 was delayed by three months because of a broken bone in his foot, is back in full training and could make his comeback in the opening game against Salford Red Devils on February 5.

“It might be a case of whether I play or use the World Club Series weekend to pinch another couple of weeks and make sure,” he said.

“That’s a conversation I’ll have with the coaches a little nearer the time. It will probably depend on who is in and out for the first couple of rounds.”

Lee Radford’s men warmed up for the new season in impressive style with a 60-20 win over Hull KR on Sunday and Ellis believes that, after a few false dawns, this could be the year of the Black and Whites.

“We’ve probably not done as much talking about it as we have in the past when it’s come back to bite us on the bum, but there’s certainly a reason for the level of excitement within the group with the players we’ve brought in,” he said.

“We can’t help but get a little bit carried away within our group but I think it’s really important that we don’t rely on those players to take us to that next level.

“Us, as existing players who have been here for a while, now need to jump up a level and get a better performance week in, week out.”

One of the newcomers, former New Zealand Test international Frank Pritchard, was named man of the match in Sunday’s derby and Ellis cannot wait to run out alongside the former Canterbury Bulldogs forward.

“I’ve played against him a few times, when he was at the Bulldogs and for New Zealand, and I’m really excited about being on the same team,” Ellis said.

“He’s the life and soul of the changing room and we’re obviously expecting big things from him in terms of his performance. He’s an inspiring player, too, he brings people along with him and I’m sure he will have a big impact on Hull FC this year.”