El­lis un­fazed by Parisse as Bath bid to end 9-year wait for tro­phy

The Rugby Paper - - Feature - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

UN­SUNG flanker Tom El­lis aims to com­plete a stel­lar con­ver­sion from sec­ond to back row by help­ing Bath end their nine-year sil­ver­ware drought.

Todd Black­ad­der’s side face a daunt­ing Chal­lenge Cup semi-fi­nal against Stade Fran­cais in Paris next week­end – Ser­gio Par­risse and all – but for­mer Eng­land U20s star El­lis views it as an op­por­tu­nity to en­hance his bur­geon­ing rep­u­ta­tion as a No.6.

El­lis, 22, told TRP: “Stade have got their own rea­sons for do­ing well and clearly it’s a game that pro­vides chal­lenges, with a hos­tile crowd and guys like Parisse against us, but it will be an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity for us to deal with.

“We’re de­ter­mined to win sil­ver­ware and we’re look­ing very dan­ger­ous in at­tack now, so it’s a great time to go up against a top French team.

“We made our quar­ter­fi­nal against Brive more dif­fi­cult than we should have, but we hadn’t won for a month be­fore that. We had a few demons in our heads but got past them and played some good rugby.

“We’ve had in­juries this year, par­tic­u­larly in our front row, but guys have stood up and our pack is go­ing well now, and with the at­tack­ing threats we’ve got we’re des­per­ate to win a tro­phy to build on into next sea­son.”

El­lis was part of the Maro Itoje-led Eng­land U20s squad that lifted the 2014 Ju­nior World Cup but was cru­elly de­nied mean­ing­ful par­tic­i­pa­tion af­ter dam­ag­ing the me­dial lig­a­ment early in their first pool match.

“My dad was fly­ing down for the sec­ond game so I ended up sleep­ing in a dou­ble bed with him in a ho­tel for the rest of the tour­na­ment, which wasn’t ideal, but at least I got to share the ex­cite­ment of see­ing the guys win­ning it,” El­lis re­calls.

Since then El­lis has be­come one of many young­sters to emerge from Bath’s academy and, af­ter switching to the back row last year, he has fea­tured in 18 league games this sea­son along­side another Eng­land hope­ful, Zach Mercer.

El­lis ex­plained: “Toby Booth, our forwards coach, sug­gested last year that if I wanted to get to the top level in­ter­na­tion­ally, back row would be the po­si­tion be­cause there’s a limit to what you can achieve as a 6ft 4in (1.93m) lock.

“Since then I’ve dropped from 123kg (19st 4lb) to 113kg (17st 8lb) but gained ex­tra fit­ness and mo­bil­ity and now see my­self as a No.6 with the flex­i­bil­ity to go into the sec­ond row.

“The tran­si­tion’s gone well and Todd Black­ad­der is a DoR who pushes guys through. He’s done that with me and Zach.

“Zach’s not just filled in for us, he’s been the main man for Eng­land U20s and is be­ing talked about for the Test squad. If Ed­die Jones looks to fil­ter in a cou­ple of U20s, I wouldn’t be sur­prised if he got the call.”

While Bath boast ex­pe­ri­enced back row cam­paign­ers in Fran­cois Louw and Taulupe Fale­tau, the ar­rival of Sam Un­der­hill from Ospreys next sea­son throws up the in­trigu­ing pos­si­bil­ity of an all-English back row.

El­lis added: “It’s great to have a young English spine and Sam’s ar­rival will en­hance that. Hope­fully, we can all play to­gether for a num­ber of years and bring suc­cess to Bath.”

En­joy­ing life in back row: Bath flanker Tom El­lis

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.