Ellis: Cannot wait

Kaide Ellis has expressed his excitement ahead of Saturday’s Betfred World Club Challenge clash against Penrith Panthers at the DW Stadium.

The Super League champions take on the NRL premiers in front of a sold out DW Stadium on Saturday night, which will see Ellis face former teammates on the biggest stage in Club Rugby League.

Ellis made eight NRL appearances – including his competition debut in 2018 – for the Panthers before spending two seasons at St George Illawarra Dragons ahead of his move to Wigan.

The forward, who hails from Dubbo – a rural country city in New South Wales – tried out tennis, golf, football, and basketball before venturing into Rugby League aged nine.

Talking through his sporting journey, Ellis said: “I was a late bloomer into Rugby League as I didn’t know you could play at the weekend. As soon as I found out you could I went straight home to ask my parents, and they signed me up to St John’s.

“Playing out in the Country meant you had to be very good for someone from Sydney to spot you. I went to train at Penrith Panthers with Western Academy when I was around 16, although nothing was supposed to come of it, as it was just about learning new drills.

“Afterwards I was told they’d keep an eye on me, and a week later I got a call inviting me to a trial. My old man drove me there and I managed to hang on for a year before I was offered a contract with the U18’s.”

During his time at the Club, Ellis won the National Youth Championship in 2015 alongside current Panthers Dylan Edwards, Jarome Luai, Soni Luke, Moses Leota and James Fisher-Harris.

Kaide Ellis in action for Penrith Panthers against Western Suburbs Magpies in R21 of the New South Wales Cup. Photograph : NRL Photos/Gregg Porteous

Sharing his Panthers memories, Ellis said: “[2015] That was my first taste of a Grand Final win. We played before the NRL Grand Final in front of 30,000 people at the ANZ Stadium which was pretty special – a moment I’ll never forget.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about Saturday and it’s weird because I won Grand Finals with a lot of those guys. I still keep in contact with most of them and it’s always nice to catch up, but friendship has to go out the window when that whistle goes.”

Ellis has lifted a Super League title, a League Leaders’ Shield, and a Challenge Cup since arriving at the DW Stadium in 2022. Expressing his excitement ahead of Saturday’s World Club Challenge showdown, he said: “It’s hard to imagine this occasion will be bigger than the Grand Final after experiencing that.

“From what I’ve heard it’s going to be a big one, which is very exciting and I cannot wait to be a part of it this weekend.”

Full match highlights from our previous World Club Challenge victories are available to watch on Wigan TV HERE.

Kaide Ellis is sponsored by Smalley (NW) Ltd.

Friday 23 February 2024