For too long the Wests Tigers have been viewed as a flashy team built around their brilliant stars Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah.
Powerful English back-rower Gareth Ellis enjoys watching Marshall sidestep around the opposition and benefits more than most from Farah’s clever dummy-half runs.
But the 106kg forward has had enough of “the flashy Tigers” and reckons 2011 will be the year the NRL finally recognises the power of the their pack.
“Without a doubt (we can make a dent on the competition), forwards play a big role in today’s game and this season will be no different,” Ellis told AAP on Tuesday.
“The key for our pack is that it’s very fit and mobile and that’s the thing we play on.
“We did a lot of good things last year and we’re entering this year playing with a lot of belief.
“Hopefully we can expand on what we did last year.”
And while Marshall grabs the headlines, and is undeniably the king of the kids, the fact remains that in his two seasons at the club, Ellis has earned two player of the year honours.
Before him, lock forward Chris Heighington had a stranglehold on the award.
Add fringe Origin prop Keith Galloway, the recently re-signed Bryce Gibbs and up-and-coming front-rower Andrew Fifita and you’re on your way to an intimidating unit, with Ellis as their leader.
It’s not a role the giant Englishman has always taken on willingly, but one he now accepts as his own in the underrated pack.
“Leadership is something that has not always been high on my agenda, I’m pretty quiet and laid back but I like to think my actions can lead rather than my words,” Ellis said.
“Hopefully some of the things I can do on the field inspire other players, that’s what I aim to do.
“And we do have a good core group there, Galloway is on the fringe of Origin and Australia, Andrew Fifita is still coming through and Gibbo is a bit of a prankster but he knows when to turn it on.
“So the fact that I’m out there the majority of the time for 80 minutes and I’m in the thick of it, I do see myself as a leader on the field definitely.”
by Buford Balony