CASTLEFORD Tigers have been linked with a move for England forward Gareth Ellis (pictured) who has announced he is to return home in 2013.
Sydney club Wests Tigers have agreed to release the former Wakefield and Leeds player from the final year of his contract in 2013 to allow him to return to Super League.
Ellis has previously said he would love to play for his home-town team Castleford.
He told Australian Rugby League Week magazine last year: “I’d love to go back to Castleford. It’s the team I grew up watching home and away. It’d be like my career played out perfectly.
“They’re going pretty good. They’re showing signs of improvement and they’ll have a new stadium in a year or two. It would be good.”
The 30-year-old had only agreed to a 12-month extension of his West Tigers contract midway through last season but has decided to exercise a get-out clause that allows him to head back to the United Kingdom at the end of 2012.
The announcement will spark a flurry of interest from Super League clubs, with Ellis sure to be in big demand.
“It has been a major decision for Gareth,” said Ellis’s manager David Howes.
“He feels the time is right to return home. He had an understanding with Wests Tigers about 2013 and they have been top class in the matter.
“They said they wouldn’t have any problem releasing him for family reasons, as long as he didn’t go to another NRL club.”
Ellis has taken out the Tigers’ player of the year award in each of his three seasons with the club since his 2009 debut and Howes believes he will have no difficulty obtaining a minimum three-year deal for his client.
“The job of finding a new club starts today,” he said. “I am anticipating plenty of interest.
“Gareth is an impeccable character, a role model on and off the field. He is also still very ambitious. He will be aiming to leave the Tigers as another Grand Final winner.”
Ellis still has a house in Wetherby, a purchase during his time with Leeds, and married long-time girlfriend Rachel last December, after completing his commitments with England in the Four Nations Series.
Wests Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys told the club’s website www.weststigers.com.au: “Whilst we are disappointed, we have granted Gareth his wish to return to England at the end of this year.
“Gareth has been an integral member of the Wests Tigers team in recent years.
“He has taken his game to another level under club and Australian Test coach Tim Sheens and is held in the highest esteem by everyone at Wests Tigers.
“Gareth will leave Wests Tigers with our blessing - and hopefully an NRL premiership.”